ST. LOUIS  – St. Louis County voters recognized the need for smart justice reform in a significantly new way during today’s primary election for prosecuting attorney.

For the first time in nearly a generation, the prosecuting attorney candidates engaged in a county-wide discussion about the high numbers of people in the St. Louis County Jail and the office’s use of cash bail, diversion, and the alternative courts system.

When St. Louis County voters elected challenger Wesley Bell, they made it clear that the criminal justice system must change.

Working as part of the St. Louis County Reform Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri for the first time engaged in the prosecuting attorney’s race, educating voters on the candidates’ positions on smart justice.

“These results demonstrate that voters care passionately about crucial civil rights issues from the unjust use of cash bail to how long people are sitting in our jails because they can’t afford to pay, to demanding their prosecuting attorney be transparent on his office’s work,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, Executive Director of ACLU of Missouri. “We provided voters with essential information on civil liberties issues and they demanded transparency and fairness from their prosecuting attorney. We look forward to working with our members and community partners to hold St. Louis County’s next prosecuting attorney accountable for protecting the rights of the people.”

The ACLU and ACLU of Missouri invested more than $244,000 into a county-wide effort to educate voters about the candidates’ positions on various civil rights issues through radio ads, phone calls, digital ads, and door-to-door canvassing in a first-of-its kind effort for the organization in Missouri that reached thousands of voters. The ACLU does not endorse or oppose candidates for elected office.

The ACLU presented voters with information, including radio ads, a database of statistics from the St. Louis County Jail and questionnaires from both candidates, which you can find at Later this fall, the website will be expanded to include questionnaires from prosecuting attorney candidates from across Missouri. 

Read our letter to Mr. Bell on the smart justice changes we must adopt. We hope to meet with Mr. Bell within the month.

Stay informed

ACLU of Missouri is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National