Missouri lawmakers vote to ease prison and jail sentences

Nouman Raja, 41, now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and could spend his life in prison for the death of Corey Jones, 31.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers have passed a measure that could ease the number of people in local jails and state prisons.

The bill given final approval Monday would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent offenses. It also would bar people from being put back in jail for not paying the costs of their previous incarceration.

The legislation passed the House 138-11. It passed the Senate 32-0 last week, and now goes to Gov. Mike Parson.

It comes after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in March that local courts can't put people in jail for not paying previous jail debts.

The legislation also reflects a national trend toward more lenient prison terms for some drug offenders and low-level criminals, as states place a greater emphasis on alternative strategies for rehabilitation.