Criminal Justice | St. Louis Public Radio

Criminal Justice

Vesla Weaver, a Yale professor who studies inequality as it relates to the criminal justice system, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh in-studio.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh was joined by Vesla Weaver, an associate professor of political science and African-American studies at Yale University, ahead of a talk slated for Wednesday afternoon in Grand Center.

Chad Sabora of the Missouri Network for Opioid Reform and Recovery answers question from the public safety committee on May 24, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The public safety committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved Tuesday a measure that supporters say will reduce the number of fatal heroin overdoses in the city.

The so-called "good Samaritan law" would give heroin users immunity from drug possession charges if they call 911 for someone who has overdosed. They could still be arrested for other crimes, or if a warrant has been issued against them.

The Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee is weighing a series of new bills that aim for criminal justice reform. One would increase educational and job opportunities for inmates.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, is strongly backing efforts to curb cities' ability to take in traffic fine revenue.
Provided by Cleaver's office

Kansas City Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says there are real commitments from leaders on both sides of the aisle to pass a package of criminal justice reforms this year.

He says one provision will likely require the appointment of a special prosecutor when a grand jury considers indicting a police officer or possibly even a political figure.

A cartoon rendering that explains the concept of collateral consequences.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

First a definition: Hiatus, noun, a break or interruption in the continutity of a work, series, action., etc. 

We aren't giving you this definition to insult your intelligence. Rather, we are defining the word to let you know that the We Live Here crew is taking a hiatus. And it really will be a short break, so that we can bring you fresh, informative and thought-provoking shows in our second season starting in March.

(via Flickr/neil conway)

Starting Thursday, more than 150 people from all parts of the criminal justice system with gather at Washington University to ponder a radical remake of the way this country uses incarceration.

The conference is the first major undertaking for the Smart Decarceration Initiative. Carrie Pettus-Davis, an assistant professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, is one of the organizers.

Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City was closed in 2004.
Dustin Holmes | Flickr

There are about 1.5 million people in federal and state prisons in the United States, according to a U.S. Department of Justice 2013 count. That is more than the population of St. Louis County and city combined.

They are locked up for burglary, assault, murder or numerous other crimes. A sliver of that population will remain in prison for life. But the vast majority are released at some point. How does someone adjust to life outside after spending years behind bars?

A cartoon rendering that explains the concept of collateral consequences.
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

On last week's podcast, we explained in detail how it happens that someone can wind up homeless for pleading to a seemingly minor transgression like trespassing or for not paying child support.

For those of you who learn better visually, rather than aurally, we thought you would appreciate this graphic representation of the concept. This is not based on any one person's experience, but is an amalgamation of several stories we've heard. 

Melvin Bain, a homeless Navy veteran, says a criminal record that included nonviolent offenses that he says makes it hard for him to find a job and get back on his feet.
Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Let’s say you’ve been arrested for something minor, like misdemeanor trespassing.  Odds are that you’ll plead guilty; that’s what court data indicate.  And in this hypothetical situation, we’ll say that you’re able to come up with the money to pay the fine.  You figure this alleged transgression is behind you, and now you can move on with your life.

But not so fast. Even pleading guilty to a misdemeanor can come with some other penalties.  These are called collateral consequences, and they're the focus of this episode of We Live Here.

peter.a photography | Flickr

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is pardoning five people for non-violent offenses, some of them committed decades ago.  One of those pardoned was convicted for stealing $1.46.

But most of the attention that Nixon is receiving for Friday's announcement is focused on his decision to commute the life sentence of Jeffrey Mizanskey, who has become a major figure in the movement to decriminalize marijuana.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

We Live Here spent the last several weeks ramping up to explore race in St. Louis and, specifically, how systems intersect with people to create  a lot of the inequality in our region ... and around the country.

Now, we are moving from the general to the specific. We will spend the next several months exploring the criminal justice system.