Hannibal News

Gov. Parson addresses why drug court, STEM education important to discuss in special session next week

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 4, 2018 9:35 pm Updated: Sep. 5, 2018 9:53 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson visited Hannibal on Tuesday to explain why he is holding a special session next week.

The aim of the weeklong session is to consider bills Parson vetoed on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and expanding drug treatment courts. The goal is to replace problematic language in both bills.

"Those two have a huge impact on the state," Parson said to a small crowd of people inside of Hannibal's municipal court.

"Alternative sentencing is going to be big for Missouri, and we should look at all resources possible before we just start incarcerating people," Parson said. "I'm not interested in building any more prisons. I'm interested in how you get people through these treatment courts, how you get them back in society and how you get them a job. It's about what happens when they get out of the system.

"That's why it's important to me that we maintain the drug treatment court and probably expand it in the near future to start taking care of the demand."

Locally, the 10th Circuit Court offers a drug treatment court.

"We're appreciative of the dollars we get for increased treatment for participants as well as increased education opportunities, such as providing a free GED class," Presiding Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd said.

Many in Hannibal on Tuesday spoke highly of the difference the drug treatment court has made in people's lives.

"I think Clark County was one of the original counties that started one," state Sen. Brian Munzlinger said. "I've worked with them and spoken at some graduation ceremonies. They help turn lives around."

Hannibal Police Department Assistant Chief Lt. John Zerbonia added that enforcement alone can't stop drug use.

"It takes other avenues," he said. "One of those other avenues is the drug treatment court."

Gov. Parson added during his visit that Missouri is behind in STEM education, and that is something legislators are working to address during the special session.

"We need to get caught up," he said. "Having young men and women ready for the technology, science and math side of things in our school systems will be important for the state and for our workforce."

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