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Government, Politics & Issues

Politically Speaking: State Sen. May On The Push To Overhaul Missouri’s Criminal Justice System

Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, reacts to the annual Vehicle Stops Report at Second Presbyterian Church on June 3, 2019.  She wants Missouri law enforcement officers to be held accountable for discriminatory practices during traffic stops against blacks.
File photo I Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis

Sen. Karla May is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast, where the St. Louis Democrat talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about a bipartisan push to overhaul the criminal justice system.

May represents parts of St. Louis and St. Louis County. She was elected to the Senate in 2018 after spending eight years in the House.

Among the things May worked on during the 2019 session was an effort to pare down mandatory minimum sentences. She worked with Republican Sen. Ed Emery on legislation that gives people convicted of certain crimes a chance to be paroled. It doesn’t affect major offenses, such as sexual assault.

May has spoken out recently after the release of a report highlighting how black motorists are more likely to get pulled over by police than their white counterparts. Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office reported that blacks were 91% more likely than whites to be stopped.

In addition to her role as a state senator, May is the committeewoman for the 26th Ward. She’s also a committeewoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, giving her a big say over the state party’s direction.

Here’s what May had to say on the show:

  • May said she was enthused to work with a conservative lawmaker like Emery on criminal justice issues. “I won’t say I’m surprised we’re moving in that direction,” she said. “I would say we have to move in that direction.”
  • She said law enforcement groups need to provide suggestions to lawmakers about how to pare racial profiling. “We have a very thin line right now in St. Louis City between the police officers and the community. And it has to be a balanced scale approach.”
  • May discussed the Senate debate over legislation that bans most abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy — and would bar the procedure nearly completely if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.
  • With the 2020 election on the horizon, May talked about what the Missouri Democratic Party needs to do to be competitive in statewide elections. 
Politically Speaking

The podcast is sponsored by the St. Louis-based law firm of Capes Sokol

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Karla May on Twitter: @krmay38

Music: “Tell It To My Heart” by Taylor Dayne

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