Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Lawmakers Focus on Drug Courts, Education as Special Session Heats Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Missouri Lawmakers Focus on Drug Courts, Education as Special Session Heats Up

Article excerpt

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Tuesday to consider legislation dealing with drug treatment courts and education in science, technology and math.

The Missouri House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously advanced legislation that would bolster Missouri's drug treatment courts. The House Workforce Development Committee approved legislation allowing computer science courses to count toward math, science or practical art credits needed for high school graduation.

The moves came after Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, vetoed two bills addressing the topics over the summer. Rather than override the new governor, lawmakers are attempting to rework the proposals after Parson called for a special session last month.

The legislation dealing with drug treatment courts, House Bill 2, would place all of the state's treatment courts under one regulatory umbrella. It also adds two more members -- one representing prosecutors and one representing the criminal defense bar -- to the state commission that oversees drug courts. The term "drug courts" would be replaced with "treatment courts" in state statute.

Under the bill, the state commission would be authorized to establish best practice standards for the state's treatment courts. The legislation would make it easier to authorize venue changes for offenders.

Jackson County launched the first so-called treatment court in Missouri in 1993, according to the state Drug Courts Coordinating Commission. The commission says that Missouri has more treatment courts per capita than any state in the nation.

According to the commission, the courts have diverted drug users from incarceration. Participants have lower recidivism rates compared to offenders who are put on probation or who enter prison. The courts have also reduced "crime and the need for foster care," according to the commission. …

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