Missouri has taken an important step forward, by providing its judges with the cost of imprisonment when sentencing felony offenders. According to an article in the New York Times, “Legal experts say no other state systematically provides such information to judges, a practice put into effect here last month by the state’s sentencing advisory commission, an appointed board that offers guidance on criminal sentencing.”
Missouri has consistently been a leader in prison reform with such alternatives to prison as “split sentencing” and reentry courts. This year, in his annual address, the chief justice of Missouri’s Supreme Court, William Ray Price Jr., stated “Perhaps the biggest waste of resources in all of state government is the over-incarceration of nonviolent offenders and our mishandling of drug and alcohol offenders”. Missouri is only one of many states whose courts are now taking a hard look at the cost of sending non-violent offenders to prison, rather than keeping them in more cost-effective community based prison alternatives (such as pre-entry courts).