The Kansas City Equity and Justice Coalition represents individuals and organizations who are deeply committed to policies aimed at reducing the number of people in our city jails, eliminating biased and unfair practices involving cash bail as well as improving the relationship between the community and the Kansas City Police Department. Our coalition is comprised of the following members: American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Heartland of America Green Party, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, Our Revolution, Reale Justice Network, and Showing Up for Racial Justice-Kansas City.
The Coalition sent a Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire to Kansas City's two candidates: Quinton Lucas and Jolie Justus. Quinton Lucas's responses are below. Jolie Justus did not submit responses to our inquiries; the ACLU and the Kansas City Equity and Justice Coalition do not endorse either candidate.
Prioritizing Alternatives to Incarceration
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and Missouri has the eighth-highest incarceration rate in the country. The financial cost and devastating consequences of incarceration for individuals, families, communities and taxpayers are well known. Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) Group, performed an assessment of the Jackson County Jail and recommended a new $180 million-dollar facility.
QUESTION: Would you oppose the construction of a new jail? What other solutions can you offer to help reduce mass incarceration in Kansas City?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes, I oppose the building of a new municipal jail. As mayor, I am committed to implementing sweeping policy change that is aimed at addressing systemic injustices. Municipal criminal justice reform is a key component of this set of policy changes. The policy changes proposed in my Economic and Racial Justice platform (available at QuintonLucas.org) are vital to reducing mass incarceration in Kansas City. These changes include eliminating jail time for many municipal offenses, decriminalizing mental health and addiction, creating a municipal identification card available to all persons in Kansas City, and pardoning all past stand-alone marijuana convictions—a first in the country.
In addition, we can reduce mass incarceration by adequately supporting our populations through quality education, access to community programs that support cognitive and emotional development, access to skills-based training, and investing in transportation, affordable housing, and transition to workforce programs. By supporting and investing in our communities on the front end, we can alter trajectories influenced by long standing inequities in our communities. We must also address the current public health crisis that has left many of our vulnerable citizens without support. It is imperative that we fully-fund mental health and addiction resources, including utilizing social workers rather than police officers when appropriate.
QUESTION: Will you pledge to publicize a written plan by June 1, 2019 detailing your plan to decrease incarceration rates in Kansas City?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes. I also share my plans to decrease incarceration rates in Kansas City on my website under the “Economic and Racial Justice” tab.
For nearly 20 years, the state of Missouri has collected traffic stop data via our states vehicle stop report which reflects growing racial disparities: African-Americans are stopped at a rate 85 percent greater than their white counterparts. African-Americans and Hispanics are searched at rates above the average for all motorists who were stopped, though they are less likely than whites to be found with contraband.
QUESTON: Would you be willing to offer an Amnesty Day for people who have outstanding traffic tickets?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes. I will offer an Amnesty Day for outstanding traffic tickets where the fee is reduced to a level similar to the original fine. Unfortunately, many individuals in our city have experienced times in their lives when they had to choose which bill to pay or a similar situation. For individuals living within limited means, the compounding late fees and potential loss of license can have catastrophic consequences. Individuals should not have to face losing their job, not having childcare, or not being able to pay for their basic needs because of their inability to pay a traffic ticket.
QUESTION: What can you and your office do to reduce the harm stemming from racial profiling?
QUINTON LUCAS: As Mayor, I am committed to addressing systemic inequities that are often perpetuated by race in Kansas City. I am committed to working with our communities of color and disenfranchised populations to advocate for policy that centers on the needs of these communities. I also will work with law enforcement to recruit more officers of color and from backgrounds representing different communities in our city. As Mayor, I will eliminate jail time for most municipal offenses, end cash bail, and will pardon any stand-alone past marijuana convictions.
QUESTION: Will you commit to holding a community forum on racial profiling within your first six months in office?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes, I will commit to a forum, but I would like it to cover the broader topic of race and public safety in our community, looking to how communities of color can take a leading role in addressing public safety in our own neighborhoods.
Ending Cash Bail
Cash bail has been an issue for many communities across the country including Kansas City. Nationally, 80% of incarcerated women are also mothers. Individuals are often held pretrial because they don’t have the ability to pay bail. Right now, 83% of the inhabitants of the county jail are being held pre-trial as of January 2019.
QUESTION: Would you support ending cash bail?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes. As previously mentioned, I am committed to eliminating jail time for the majority of municipal offenses. A citation in lieu of arrest policy would eliminate the bail procedure for a significant number of municipal cases. Currently Kansas City conducts walk-in dockets which are opportunities for individuals with warrants to present themselves before a judge for an opportunity to get past the bonding process. As Mayor, I would support these endeavors and support policy that restricts the use of bonding at the Municipal level to cases when the individuals are deemed a threat to society or another individual.
QUESTION: Will you pledge to publicize a written plan no later than June 1, 2019, detailing how you will reform cash bail?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you support establishing a non-arrest policy and diversion programs for non-violent offenses?
QUINTON LUCAS: I support implementing a citation in lieu of arrest policy for non-violent offenses, except for when an individual requires physical and/or behavioral healthcare or in the case of domestic abuse, stalking, and violation of orders of protection. Other offenses likely warrant lock-up, including but not limited to assaults filed at the municipal level, molestation and sexual assaults, and certain driving offenses leading to injuries or with recidivists where the county prosecutor has declined charges. In addition, I support the establishment of pre-trial diversion programs for some non-violent offenses.
QUESTION: What types of diversion programs will you seek to create or grow?
QUINTON LUCAS: I support fully funding these alternatives to incarceration: Kansas City’s Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans’ Treatment Court are important resources. However, Kansas City would benefit from the establishment of pre-booking diversion programs for individuals struggling with mental health and addiction issues as part of a long-term process goal of decriminalizing these issues. In addition, I support the creation of a traffic education diversion program, a community-based mentor diversion program, and juvenile diversion program.
Police should respect communities and the Constitution when enforcing the law. Too often, however, police officers are not held accountable when they violate the community’s trust or an individual’s rights. The Office of Community Complaints has been active for over 30 years in Kansas City and in those decades has never prosecuted an officer for any complaint.
QUESTION: Will you work with community coalitions who seek to gain local control of the Kansas City Police?
QUINTON LUCAS: As Mayor, I will work with community coalitions to find solutions for their concerns regarding local control. It is important for the police to be accountable to the community they are serving, just as an elected official should be accountable to the community they are serving. Being accountable to the community means acting in the best interest of the community both through their interactions with the public and through activities such as responsible use of taxpayer dollars. However, before we move from state control to local control we need the input of the police department, those in the pension system, and to examine what worked and what did not work during St. Louis’ transition. We need to make sure we get it right with local control and greater local responsibility and create a responsive institution, not just a different bureaucracy.
QUESTION: Would you support establishing an independent police review board when police are accused of criminal misconduct?
QUINTON LUCAS: I support independent review of misconduct.
Transparency and Accountability
QUESTION: Will your office commit to bi-annual data releases that include the number of individuals arrested, the types of bonds impose and the length of detention of each individual?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes, as Mayor I will work with the municipal justice system and police department to release municipal statistics regarding number of arrests, types of bonds imposed, and the length of detention of individuals.
Protecting All Communities
People with disabilities, including people with significant mental health needs, deserve dignity and to have their disabilities taken into account in the legal system. In Jackson County, 3% of prisoners are screened for health conditions while incarcerated. Nationally, 40% of prisoners have a chronic medical condition Programs that divert people with disabilities out of the criminal legal system, often toward treatment or community-based services, are cost-effective and proven way of ensuring that people with disabilities are not trapped in cycles of incarceration.
QUESTION: Do you commit to developing pre-booking diversion programs that connect people with disabilities to services and supports before they are caught up in the criminal legal system?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes, I am committed to establishing pre-booking diversion programs for individuals with disabilities, in addition to individuals with mental health and addiction issues. It is important that we provide support for individuals in our community who are struggling.
The Mayor's priorities should reflect the communities they serve. Too often, elected officials are not in regular dialogue with local communities, especially those most heavily impacted by violence.
QUESTION: Do you pledge to form a community advisory board, including members who have been directly impacted by criminal legal system, that will meet monthly to discuss the communities’ priorities and how the Mayor’s office can respond to their concerns?
QUINTON LUCAS: Yes, I will form a community advisory board to address the communities’ experiences with the City, its departments and police. In addition, I will work to bring community members and representatives from all agencies together to collaborate on solutions to these issues in our community.