Parson signs debtor's prison bill

Photo courtesy of Gov. Parson’s Twitter page

(Jefferson City) -- Gov. Mike Parson has signed into law a bill banning modern-day debtor’s prisons – the practice of putting people back in jail for having unpaid jail bills.

House Bill 192 also scraps court hearings for defendants to explain to a judge why they should not be in jail for failing to pay their jail boarding debt. It will instead let counties collect the bills through civil means, with no threat of jail time.

“As a former sheriff and law enforcement officer, I understand the challenges facing those working within the criminal justice system, and we have to do a better job,” says Parson.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Bruce DeGroot, R-Chesterfield, takes effect August 28.

Attached to the legislation is House Bill 113, which allows judges to waive mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for non-violent offenders who meet certain criteria. The effort was championed by Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage.