Dear Mr. Bell:
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 St. Louisans – and Missourians – when it comes to their rights. Since our founding, we have defended freedom for all Missourians in the courts, under the dome in Jefferson City, and here on the streets of St. Louis County. 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. They want change. They support smart justice. We knocked on more than 2,000 doors in St. Louis County and spoke with thousands of voters about criminal justice reform.
We must lead our state forward by reducing the number of people in our jails and prisons.
The voters know that you have the ability as the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County 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 in St. Louis 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 regular 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.
St. Louis County believes in smart justice that is fair to all. We will stand with the community to make sure this vision becomes the region’s reality.
Legislative and Policy Director
ACLU of Missouri