Since 2006, Missouri’s prison population has risen by roughly 2,500 inmates, an 8 percent increase since 2006. In a hearing on Monday, new Missouri DOC Director Anne Precythe testified at the Statehouse about the growth and shared her resolve to not build another prison.
The last prison built in Missouri, the Chillicothe Correctional Center, cost roughly $120 million dollars by the time it opened in 2008. In 2006, the Missouri Legislature had authorized bonds to pay for it.
Unstated at the hearing, or at least unreported by Missourinet, was the larger question of why Missouri kept increasing its prison population.
Despite a spike in 2016, the national crime rate is roughly half of what it was at its peak in 1991. In 2013 the violent crime rate was lower than at any time since 1970. Although Missouri crime rates are higher than the norm, their trend has been roughly comparable to the nation’s.
An open discussion on crime and punishment might be a useful conversation to have before the state starts building new prisons.