Criminal Legal Reform and the 2021 Legislative Session

During the 67 the legislative session, over a hundred bills that would impact our criminal legal system were introduced and heard in committee. MWV took positions and lobbied on many of those bills, both good and bad. The bills listed below are just a snapshot of the criminal legal reform work MWV and allies did during the legislative session. Many other bills passed, including study bills that we will continue to engage with over the interim.


Bills We Opposed

  • HB 194, sponsored by Rep. Fred Anderson (Tabled in committee)  –  HB 194 would allow judges to revoke drivers’ licenses for people found to be driving without insurance. This kind of policy impacts low-income Montanans most severely and creates a cycle of criminalization of poverty that is difficult to escape.
  • SB 194, sponsored by Sen. Kieth Regier (Died on Senate floor)  –  SB 194 would have given the authority to order an arrest to privately employed (not state or county employed) probation and parole officers. SB 194 would have created a new level of law enforcement with little to no oversight or accountability.
  • SB 240, sponsored by Sen. Teresa Manzella (Passed and signed into law)  –  SB 240 creates a new felony penalty for the false reporting of crimes. Not only does SB 240 increase incarceration, it creates new barriers for victims of crimes such as sexual assault, which are already heavily underreported.


Bills We Supported

  • HB 451, sponsored by Rep. Robert Farris-Olsen (Passed and signed into law)  –  HB 451 will require that time spent in court-ordered treatment centers be included in the calculation of time served. This will shorten the time individuals spend incarcerated and incentivize treatment.
  • SB 289, sponsored by Sen. Brian Hoven (Tabled in committee)  –  SB 289 was a “ban the box” bill, which would have prohibited employers from asking on job application forms whether someone had been previously convicted of a crime.
  • SB 361, sponsored by Sen. Brian Hoven (Died on House floor)  –  SB 361 would have created a “certificates of rehabilitation” program, which allows formerly incarcerated individuals to demonstrate that they have completed their sentence and which removes barriers to employment and housing for those who have been formerly incarcerated.