On Saturday afternoon the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus wrapped up the second of two forums aimed at engaging African American constituents.
The first town hall was held in Kansas City last weekend and legislators covered a broad range of topics that included crime, education and economic development.
The event was moderated by newly elected Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, who represents a sizable chunk of St. Louis City.
“It’s been a while since the caucus has heard from the black community, as well as the St. Louis community as a whole.” Butler said. “We’re just giving our constituents a chance to be heard and hear issues that are important to them.”
Kevin Blackshear welcomed the chance to engage directly with African American state legislators.
“Hopefully this will cause them to have a sense of urgency, cause them to reach out more.” Blackshear said. “To be accessible to the people.”
Caucus members fielded several questions from residents including how they plan to curb violence.
“I want to know what they’re really going to do for the city,” said Ramona Scott. “Actual plans that can be feasibly applied to the city.”
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, told the audience she’s been working on a bill that would seal the records of non-violent offenders. Nasheed drew a direct line from recently released prisoners who are having difficultly finding work due to their criminal record and a higher potential for violent crime.
“It’s very difficult for them,” Nasheed said. “They come out and they have no one to turn to.”
Nasheed said under her bill a non-violent offender who stays clean for four or five years could request that the court seal his or her criminal record.
“If we’re not able to provide the resources they need when they come home, then we’re going to have a revolving door, the recidivism rate will continue to rise,” Nasheed said.