JEFFERSON CITY – About a half-dozen bills passed by Missouri legislators in the recent session are winning praise from the American Civil Liberties Union, but the group bristles at others.
The ACLU of Missouri said in a statement that it had tracked 727 pieces of legislation in the state legislature, ranging from police reform to attacks on the First Amendment, voting rights, trans youth and reproductive freedom. Its policy team testified more than 100 times in defense of civil liberties, the group said.
Here are measures the ACLU is happy about:
- $3.6 million in support of the Missouri Public Defenders
- Legislation to ban chokeholds, decriminalize HIV, create a use of force database and affirm the ability of a prosecutor to reconsider cases when evidence emerges proving innocence
- A bill to ensure that every juvenile has access to an attorney
- Legislation to grant Bobby Bostic, a juvenile sentenced to 241 years in prison for non-homicidal offenses, a parole hearing
- Restrictions on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools
- Better opportunities to get criminal records expunged
Many of these reforms can be found in HB12, SB 53/60 and HB 432, all of which are now on Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.
One bill that worries the ACLU is SB26, which includes the Police Officers Bill of Rights and enhanced criminal penalties.
“It is egregious that the legislature continues to undermine true reform with regressive measures to give law enforcement greater impunity,” the ACLU said in the statement.
Sara Baker, Legislative and Policy Director for the ACLU of Missouri, added, “No officer is above the law, and every community in Missouri deserves justice and accountability. We will continue to lobby the Missouri legislature to push for more reform and address its errors.”
The ACLU of Missouri invites supporters to join its legislative debrief and interim prep session on June 10 at 6 pm. To register for the session, go to https://aclu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAvduGqqT8qGdCVSBHDrHT3HZAuKdjFV78Z.