Sen. Rowden Touts Lower Prison Population

Missouri Senator Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia told a crowd of Central Methodist students Thursday night that the state has turned its prison population around in the past three years, with more than 40,000 incarcerated in 2017 and down to 27,000 now.

Rowden, who was speaking as part of a new Pi Lambda Alpha criminal justice speaker series, said new legislation and the arrival of Anne Precythe as director of the Missouri Department of Corrections led to the change.

“The prison population was growing so much that we were facing the construction of two new prisons within 5-7 years,” Rowden said. “It was a trend we couldn’t afford.”

Rowden said policy evaluation and changes like the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, contributed to the difference.

“It was a bi-partisan initiative,” he said. “We went from potentially opening two prisons to actually closing one.”

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative has a primary purpose of reducing recidivism and incarceration rates by focusing on behavioral health, public safety, and information technology infrastructure.

Rowden, who serves as the Senate Majority Leader, says next on Missouri’s agenda is deeper dive into public policy to make sure there is a differentiation between violent crime and non-violent crime and giving non-violent offenders a chance to rehabilitate.

Rowden also discussed the political climate in the state, and said 75 percent of his business was non-partisan. He told the students that much of the legislation being evaluated was “generational.”

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