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ICYMI: We’ll reform Missouri’s criminal justice system if we quit fighting and work together

Nov 8, 2019 by AFP

Americans for Prosperity-Missouri State Director Jeremy Cady | Kansas City Star  

Is it just me, or is everyone yelling at each other?

Whether it’s on the news or on social media, it seems as if everyone — pundits, politicians and even your next-door neighbor — is blasting, mocking or having heated arguments with someone else. The same thing goes on at the highest levels of power in our country.

At Americans for Prosperity, we decided to go in a different direction. Our approach follows the model set by Frederick Douglass when he said, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.” That’s the philosophy that guides our efforts on reforming the criminal justice system.

We ask those coming out of imprisonment to be contributing members of society while making it much too difficult for them to succeed. The result is a system in which the formerly incarcerated are denied a second chance and too often return to a life of crime. Our communities end up less safe, and our economy loses tens of billions of dollars in lost productivity.

With Douglass’ dictum in mind, we will be working with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, former federal prisoner and President Donald Trump’s State of the Union guest Matthew Charles and many others to spread the word and push for criminal justice reform.

Our approach is yielding results in our state. In February, the Missouri House of Representatives passed HB 113, which would provide judges greater discretion in sentencing individuals for minor, nonviolent offenses. Unfortunately, the Missouri Senate didn’t consider the measure. But in July, the state legislature passed and Gov. Mike Parson signed into law HB 192, which ended several draconian punishments that impose burdens on Missourians, such as arrest for non-payment of fines and fees and arbitrary mandatory prison terms for nonviolent and non-sexual crimes.

To continue this momentum, we are hosting a series of events this month, starting with one featuring Lucas and Charles on Nov. 12 in the Truman Forum Auditorium at the Kansas City Public Library’s Plaza Branch. Subsequent events featuring Charles will occur in Springfield and St. Louis, and more could follow.

We’ll hear stories about what can happen when we set aside our differences and work for real reform. We invite you to reject division and join us for these events. Be part of the solution.

Click here to read the full op-ed.