ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson have been calling for tougher sentences for gun criminals but does the state’s prison system have the room?

Missouri’s current prison population is 31,400 inmates, just about 100 inmates short of reaching operating capacity.

Even so, Missouri Corrections Director George Lombardi says they are ready to handle what the courts send them.

“We have safely and effectively housed all of the offenders they have come our way,” he says. “We anticipate we can continue to do that for quite some time, don’t particularly have any requests or need for an additional prison. We got a lot of hopes about our very intensive reentry effort to ensure that those who are paroled are as successful as possible.”

At the end of last year, 23 percent of Missouri’s prison population was serving time for violent crime, including 3.4 percent for first-degree murder. Recidivism rates show that of inmates released in Missouri, about half end up coming back to prison with five years.

“When a person walks out the door, they really need to have a job and they need to make sure that, if they are in some sort of treatment mode for substance abuse or mental health, that that treatment continues when they’re out on the street,” Lombardi added.


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