Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday ordered the formation of a prison reform task force to address the state’s troubled correctional system.
Its marching orders: Deliver a report by year’s end and draft legislation for consideration in 2018.
The Republican governor’s office said the panel “will follow a data-driven approach” to save money and boost public safety, while emphasizing prisoner rehabilitation.
In a news release, Greitens described how a prisoner leaving the state’s correctional system “doesn’t know what to do.”
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“He has no job. He has no money. So he will do what he did before he went to prison. And odds are, he’ll end up right back in prison,” Greitens said in the release.
The governor implied in his statement that he wants recommendations from the task force for job training and classes to produce more parolees with high school equivalency degrees along with moral instruction from “faith leaders.”
In that scenario, Greitens’ release said, “he’s got a path in life. And he has the tools to go back and live right.”
The Missouri Department of Corrections has been dogged by widespread discrimination and harassment complaints. In a story late last year, The Pitch documented a series of complaints made by women working in the state prison system.
Shortly after he took office, Greitens replaced state Corrections Director George Lombardi with Anne Precythe to oversee 21 prisons holding more than 32,000 inmates and employing about 11,000 people. At the time, she was working in North Carolina’s prison systems and had spent most of her career in probation and parole jobs.
“She inherited a mess: morale was low, officers were mistreated, not all inmates had a plan for their release,” Greitens said in his Friday release.
The governor credited her for hiring new corrections officials and firing “poor leaders.”
“She and her team are putting the ‘correcting’ back into corrections,” Greitens said.
Precythe will head the governor’s 22-person task force drawn from various state departments, including mental health and public safety workers, a member of the state Supreme Court, legislators, law enforcement and a member of the public.
Greitens’ statement said his order, posted on his Facebook page Thursday and in a Friday news release, “creates a task force to fix the system.”