Legislation also helps set wrongfully convicted Missourians like Lamar Johnson and Kevin Strickland on path to freedom
JEFFERSON CITY – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Brian Williams, D-University City, to ban police chokeholds and implement several significant police and criminal justice reform measures, including new authority to vacate wrongful convictions, has been signed into law by the governor.
“I grew up in Ferguson, Missouri, and in 2018 became the first Black man elected to the State Senate in 20 years. I know that George Floyd could have easily been me or any of the countless Black men and women who live in our state,” said Sen. Williams. “Without a doubt, this new law will save Black lives and make Missouri’s streets safer for everyone.”
Senate Bill 60 includes several police and criminal justice reform provisions:
- Prohibits law enforcement from using a respiratory chokehold unless deadly force is authorized;
- Increases the penalty to a class E felony for officers and correctional staff who engage in sexual conduct with a person in their custody;
- Prevents officers who have been discharged from one department for wrongdoing from simply moving to another department to escape accountability;
- Establishes, through provisions sponsored by Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, the Critical Incident Stress Management Program to provide services for officers coping with stress and psychological trauma, and requires Missouri law enforcement agencies to collect and report local annual data on use-of-force incidents involving their officers;
- Helps to make sure that children are not put in adult prisons by clarifying that a juvenile who has been certified to stand trial as an adult shall remain in juvenile detention pending the outcome of their case;
- Shortens the delay for those who have served their time to request expungement from seven years to three years for a felony, and from three years to one year for a misdemeanor; and
- Helps set innocent people free from wrongful imprisonment by allowing prosecutors and circuit attorneys to file a motion to vacate convictions if they believe the convicted person is innocent.
“Right now, innocent men like Lamar Johnson and Kevin Strickland have spent decades behind bars for crimes they did not commit. This new law will help set these innocent men free,” said Sen. Williams. “I appreciate the advocates, activists, law enforcement partners, and my fellow elected officials for never giving up on these issues. This bill is proof that Missouri is a great state capable of doing great things if its leaders have the courage to work hard and set aside petty politics for the common good.”
With the governor’s signature, SB 60 will go into effect on Aug. 28, 2021.