COLE COUNTY, Mo. – Cole County voters took to the polls to elect Locke Thompson as the first new prosecuting attorney in 12 years. A community’s prosecuting attorney is the single most powerful individual who shapes what justice looks like.

For the first time in over a decade, the prosecuting attorney candidates engaged in a county-wide discussion about the high number of people in the Cole County Jail and the office’s use of drug treatment programs, the need for increased transparency, and alternatives to incarceration.

While the ACLU of Missouri does not support, oppose or endorse candidates, the organization’s effort to educate voters on the role of the Prosecuting Attorney is key in ensuring Missouri operates with smart justice policies that protect civil liberties statewide.

“The level of engagement we saw from the Cole County community demonstrates that voters care passionately about reducing the number of people in our prisons and jails, while saving lives and taxpayer dollars,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, Executive Director of ACLU of Missouri. “We provided voters with essential information on civil liberties issues and they want transparency and fairness from their prosecuting attorney.”

Missouri ranks eighth-highest in the nation when it comes to how many of its citizens are behind bars. A community’s prosecuting attorney holds immense power at each stage of the criminal proceedings – from charging decisions to the sentences they seek – and can wield that influence to transform the criminal justice system.

The ACLU will continue to hold Cole County’s next prosecuting attorney accountable for protecting the rights of all people.

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