Missouri governor signs bill to increase prison sentences

Associated Press
Today, Governor Mike Parson signed SB 600, which modifies and creates several provisions relating to dangerous felonies, including offenses of conspiracy, unlawful possession of firearms, criminal street gangs and vehicle hijacking.

COLUMBIA — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced he's signing a contested bill that will ramp up penalties for gun crimes, second-degree murder and gang crimes.

It also would create the crime of vehicle hijacking, which now can be prosecuted as robbery. 

The measure is the only bill the Republican-led Legislature passed this year to address a surge in violent crime in Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis. 

But groups ranging from the NAACP to the conservative Americans for Prosperity criticized the bill as a return to tough-on-crime policies and argued locking people up longer won't make Missouri safer. 

Even the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, which along with other law enforcement groups urged Parson to sign the bill, said it doesn't go far enough to address the recent increase in violent crime. 

Parson on Monday said he'll continue looking for ways to stem violence. 

"This legislation is a large step towards safety and justice for our communities," Parson said. "However, there is a lot more to be done. These tools are just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to fight violent criminals."

The bill takes effect Aug. 28.