Members of Kansas City-based Mothers of Incarcerated Sons and Daughters made the trip to Jefferson City, MO, late last month to lobby in support of several bills the organization’s members say will make it easier for ex-offenders to survive economically after they’re released.
MISD was just one of several organizations of the Empower Missouri Smart Sentencing coalition, who joined forces to help work positive movement on three bills up for consideration during the 2020 Missouri Legislative Session: HB 2141, HB 1468, and HB 1291.
In one way or another, all three of the bills help improve the opportunities for offenders, or those currently facing sentencing to support their families.
Bev Livingston, MISD founder, said it’s important for ex-offenders to have more opportunities once they’re released and that currently the State of Missouri has too many laws in place that continue to hamper them economically once they’re released.
"We want loved ones and people to come out of these facilities and be able to come home and be productive citizens," Livingston told KRCG TV.
HB2141 Fresh Start
HB 2141, called the Fresh Start Act of 2020, keeps all state agencies that issue occupational licenses from disqualifying the person for a license just because they have a prior criminal conviction. Under this bill, a prior conviction can only disqualify a person if the conviction directly relates to the duties and responsibilities for the licensed occupation.
If the law passes, each state licensing authority will have to revise its existing licensing requirements to explicitly list which categories or specific criminal convictions could disqualify an applicant. In addition, the licensing authority cannot consider an arrest without a conviction or consider a conviction that is more than five years old, unless the crime is violent or sexual in nature or if the individual is convicted of another crime during that five year period.
HB 1468 Liquor and Lottery
If approved, HB 1468 allows individuals who have a conviction to work in a job where they sale alcohol or lottery tickets. Under current law, they can’t legally do either. In addition, the law gets rid of a State requirement for the owners of liquor stores to report to the State Division of Liquor Control the name of any individual who works in their store has been convicted of a felony. HB 1468 eliminates that requirement.
HB 1291 Community-based Treatment
The Missouri Department of Corrections currently operates a community-based treatment program as a sentencing alternative. This bill adds making of the treatment program goals, assigning to the program, nonviolent offenders who are primary caregivers with one or more dependent children.
"Employment is one of the primary necessities, that not only they are required to do, but we want them to have opportunities," MISD advocacy ambassador, Kyra Storms told KRCG.
If passed, these bills will help.
You can follow the progress on these bills online at house.mo.gov. Click on legislation to track the progress of a bill. You can also enter your address to find out your representative’s name, and e-mail them your request for their support without leaving the page.
You can reach Mothers of Incarcerated Sons and Daughters through their Facebook page or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF HELPING
A decade ago, Bev Livingston found herself in a difficult situation. Her son was arrested and eventually incarcerated. Through the process, she learned just how large and overwhelming the criminal justice system could be for the defendant, but also for their families.
“I felt like there was so many mothers and family loved ones who don’t know how to approach this big Goliath we are faced with,” said Livingston. With them, and herself in mind, she formed Mothers of Incarcerated Sons and Daughters in 2009, as an advocacy and support group for the hundreds of mothers who were going through exactly what she’d faced.
Livingston and other mothers get together for a monthly session on the 2nd Saturday of every month from noon to 1:30 p.m. They’ll meet on March 14 at the Plexpod Westport Commons, Annex A, 300 E. 39th St., KCMO. For future meeting locations, and updates on their activities go to MISD Facebook page. They can be reached by email at email@example.com.