Parolees incentivized to work in new proposal

Legislation heard by a Missouri Senate panel Monday would provide an incentive for parolees to work.

The "Earning Safe Reentry Through Work Act" would allow some offenders to earn credits that would reduce their sentences for each day worked. To do this, parolees would have to maintain employment and be in compliance with court-ordered conditions of supervision.

For each month worked, former inmates could earn up to 20 days off their parole.

To prove eligible employment, parolees would have to provide verifiable documents from their employers, such as pay stubs and tax forms.

"This bill will help with recidivism," said Rita Linhardt, senior associate at Missouri Catholic Conference. "A former inmate who keeps a job is three times less likely to reoffend, which keeps us safer. It's good for the economy, it's good for the parolee, and it's good for our community."

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Derek Grier, R-Chesterfield, also cited this statistic. Linhardt and Grier said they support supervised second chances.

Representatives from Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City also supported the proposed legislation, HB 2088, because of its potential economic benefits.

"Helping successfully transition inmates from the correctional process into the workforce provides not only a boost for employers but also provides a social need by helping former inmates transition to quality employment," said Jim Erickson, director of strategic initiatives for the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill, and it passed the House in early April with one vote against it.

Next, it will need to gain approval by the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee before moving to the full Senate for debate.

The work of the Missouri News Network is written by Missouri School of Journalism students and editors for publication by Missouri Press Association member newspapers.

HB 2088: Offender work-for-time credits

Sponsor: Rep. Derek Grier