Dear Mr. Thompson:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri has a long history of defending civil rights and liberties.
We engaged in this race because the stakes are high for all residents of Cole County – and Missourians – when it comes to their rights. Since our founding, we have defended freedom for all Missourians in the courts and under the dome in Jefferson City. We believe that everyone must get the full protections granted by the U.S. and Missouri constitutions.
We urge you to protect those rights.
During this election, voters spoke out. We spoke to more than 1,000 voters in Cole County. They said no to building new prisons and favored treating drug addiction as a disease, not a crime. We texted 4,000 voters in Cole County asking them what they want in their next prosecuting attorney. A majority of respondents told us they wanted prosecuting attorney who would stand up for smart justice reforms.
We must lead our state forward by reducing the number of people in our jails and prisons.
The voters know that as the prosecuting attorney for Cole County, you have the ability to use your power for good. We urge your office to adopt the following smart justice practices:
- End cash bail for people who pose a minimal danger to the community. Commit to releasing these people on their own recognizance or with conditions of pre-trial supervision. Ensure “flight risk” alone will never be used to keep someone behind bars.
- Increase the use of pre-charge diversion and alternative court programs like a new mental health court in Cole County. Increase diversion to meet or exceed the nine percent national rate of felony diversion. Use drug treatment programs and mental health support systems to reduce recidivism and get people back on their feet.
- Boost transparency efforts within your office. Commit to quarterly releases of data on types of bond and charges, racial disparity measures, ZIP codes, and the number of people participating in diversion programs. Set community-focused measures of success and publicize internal policies reflecting how your office makes decisions. Meet regularly with the community to receive feedback on your work.
We look forward to working with your office to ensure that these changes are made. We remain committed to holding your office accountable to the public it serves.
Cole County voters believe in smart justice that is fair to all. We will stand with the community to make sure this vision becomes reality.
Legislative and Policy Director
ACLU of Missouri