Senator Tony Luetkemeyer Proposes Legislation to Combat Violent Crime
JEFFERSON CITY — State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, has sponsored a legislative package to address the scourge of violent crime in Missouri’s metros. Two measures toughen penalties for offenders who use dangerous weapons to commit felonies and close the revolving door of granting probation for violent criminals. A third bill creates the “Missouri Criminal Street Crime Gangs Prevention Act” to combat organized crime.
“Lenient sentencing practices have contributed to alarming increases in violent crime in Missouri, especially in the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas of my district,” Sen. Luetkemeyer said. “The commonsense reforms I am advancing will begin to crack down on violent crime, get repeat offenders off our streets and provide prosecutors the tools they need to deal with organized crime in our state.”
A recent USA Today ranking of America’s Most Dangerous Cities had St. Louis and Kansas City as the fifth- and sixth-most-dangerous cities in the country. Springfield ranked number 14. In 2016, St. Joseph saw the seventh-largest increase in violent crime of any city in America.
Senator Luetkemeyer sponsored legislation to prevent probation from being given to certain repeat offenders and those convicted of dangerous felonies. Currently, Missouri law allows probation to be granted for most felonies, including second-degree murder. Sen. Luetkemeyer’s legislation stops that practice.
Another measure filed by Sen. Luetkemeyer provides for stiffer penalties under the Missouri’s armed criminal action statute for violent offenders who use guns or other dangerous weapons to commit felonies. In addition to increasing mandatory prison sentences, the legislation also requires sentences for armed criminal action to be served consecutively with the punishment for the underlying felony offense. Often sentences are combined so defendants are released early, despite convictions for multiple crimes.
The Missouri Criminal Street Gangs Prevention Act, proposed by Sen. Luetkemeyer, provides prosecutors with greater flexibility to bring charges against offenders engaged in organized criminal activity. The act will increase penalties for gang-related felonies while restricting the discretion of judges to hand down lenient sentences when patterns of organized criminal activity are evident. The act is similar to the federal RICO statute, which was used by federal prosecutors to target organized criminal activity like the Mob.
Pre-filing of legislative proposals began Dec. 2. The 2020 legislative session begins Jan. 8.
For more information about Sen. Luetkemeyer, visit www.senate.mo.gov/mem34.