ST. LOUIS — A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole alleging the group violated due process of individuals through failure to disclose rights, among other charges.
According to MyMoInfo.com, the lawsuit was filed by the MacArthur Justice Center, claiming that nearly 6,000 individuals have been subjected to accusations of parole violations annually, with 90 percent of these being sent back to prison for minor offenses.
The MacArthur Justice Center's Amy Breihan said the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole had failed to explain to parolees that they have the right to a hearing and failed to screen and decide if they were qualified to receive a court-appointed attorney.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has given very clear direction about what paroling authorities have to do to ensure that those on community supervision receive meaningful due process before they are thrown back behind bars," Breihan told the St. Louis Record. "Yet in Missouri, we see an unfair and fundamentally flawed parole revocation system that results in thousands being reincarcerated for minor violations without being informed of or provided their full constitutional rights."
The court has certified the case as a class-action lawsuit, she added.
"This ruling reflects the systemic nature of the problem in Missouri. Freedom has been taken away from thousands of Missourians, and taxpayers pay the bill for the unnecessary incarceration and damage done to the lives of the parolees, their families, and their communities," Breihan said. "This should be a wake-up call to MDOC and its Parole Board that they can no longer avoid their constitutional obligations to the citizens they supervise."
The MacArthur Justice Center is seeking changes in practice from the department, rather than monetary awards.