JOPLIN, Mo. — The Missouri justice system has made sweeping changes in how the court sets bail or simply releases a suspect.
And now state lawmakers are considering changing the process again.
“I’m sure their decisions were well intentioned but the end result has has made life very difficult for local law enforcement,” said Rep. Lane Roberts, R.
State Representative Lane Roberts of Joplin wants to change that. His crime bill is being debated at the state capitol, a measure that includes bail reform.
“The sheriff’s are really struggling when people are accused. Various misconduct have and quite literally sunder nose at the judge in court because there simply are no consequences,” said Roberts.
His bill would address instances where suspects are released with no bail required, which Roberts says causes problems in some cases.
“Essentially nobody has any accountability. They get arrested, they can jail that release on their own recognizance and they do it repeatedly. And they’re simply have no regard. No. I don’t say fear necessarily, but no respect for the court. And it has created havoc really at the local level,” he said.
Roberts says it’s the same suspects committing the same crimes they were just released from.
“By being able to hold at the very least for a period of time, we’ve separated the people who had harmed by this and those who have been the victims. And I think sometimes we forget that penal system was intended not just to hold others accountable, but also to separate the innocent from those who victimize them,” said Roberts.
The Missouri Supreme Court implemented the bond changes back in 2019, leading to cases where many suspects were released without bond.
Roberts’ bill would reset the standards for assigning bail, including asking judges to consider the nature of the crime, the suspect’s past conduct, and whether they’re considered a flight risk.
“What this bill essentially does is returns it to the original bail provisions that we had prior to that decision by the court,” he said.
The crime bill addressing bail reform has been approved in the Missouri House but has not yet come up for a vote in the full Senate.