Kim Will Continue To Attack and Prevent Violent Crime
We must continue our efforts to address violence in our communities. Decades of experience shows us that this is not a problem that can be solved by police officers and prosecutors working alone, using incarceration as our only tool. Unfortunately, only a small proportion of violent crimes reported are ever solved, so, for the most part, the criminal justice system does not touch the parties involved in or affected by these offenses. In addition, decades of intolerably high levels of violent crime have shown us, while incarcerating the convicted is often necessary and appropriate, it alone cannot successfully address the stubborn problem of violent crime in our city.
Kim’s Circuit Attorney Office takes a broader approach that helps victims of violence heal, ensures the operation of the system does not cause members of the public undue harm, and focuses on preventing violence from reoccurring in the future.
Supporting Violence Intervention Programs that use a Public Health approach
Our city’s Board of Aldermen recently funded CureViolence, a community violence interruption program, and the program will begin operation soon. CureViolence has had substantial success reducing violent crime, especially shootings and murders, in the cities where it operates. Kim supports this initiative and has a member of her office on the steering committee for its implementation.
Expand Restorative Justice Programs
Restorative justice programs emphasize repairing the harm that results from violence and providing a nonviolent method of resolving conflict. Research shows that these programs support victims, promote healing, and reduce violent reoffending among individuals who participate in them. Kim will work to incorporate elements of restorative justice into her diversion programs and plea offers on more serious cases, to increase accountability, help victims heal, and prevent acts of violence in the future.
Lessen the Harm to Families Caused by the Incarceration of their Loved Ones
Of course, public safety sometimes requires the incarceration of individuals who commit violent crimes. This incarceration doesn’t happen in a vacuum, however, and it causes pain and hardship to family members who are left behind. The children of incarcerated parents are more likely to suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Their families are plagued by economic instability. A breakdown in the parent-child relationship that can occur during incarceration contributes to a variety of negative outcomes, including increased criminal behavior in our next generation.
Kim wants to continue to expand victims’ services to offer assistance to people who are victims of the criminal justice system. She wants to offer families of the incarcerated:
- the opportunity to participate in programming to address the emotional impact on children of being separated from their parent
- job training and placement assistance for caregivers of children with incarcerated parents
- the enhanced ability for children to maintain contact with their incarcerated loved ones, by advocating for child-friendly visitation conditions at the jail and free telephone calls
Help Restore Community Trust in Law Enforcement and the Circuit Attorney’s Office
We can reduce violence by helping to strengthen the relationship between the community and law enforcement and increase confidence in the justice system. When members of our community trust that the police and Circuit Attorneys treat everyone fairly and genuinely want to help keep them safe, they are more likely to seek help when they need it, report crimes, and participate in investigations.
We will continue to enhance community trust in the Circuit Attorney Office by engaging in practices that are fair, just, and non-discriminatory:
- When she first took office, Kim changed the charging policy of the Office to make sure that (1) cases would no longer be issued if there wasn’t evidence to prove the charges, beyond a reasonable doubt, at trial, and (2) overcharging and unnecessary enhancements would not be used to force plea offers.
- Kim stopped arresting and detaining people accused of misdemeanors and low-level felonies, so that those who pose no public safety threat would not be held in custody simply because they don’t have the money to bond out. Kim also requires her attorneys to frequently revisit bail amounts and agree to non-monetary release whenever it is consistent with public safety.
- Kim will continue fighting against over-incarceration and disproportionate sentencing and ensure that incarceration is reserved for those who pose a substantial risk to public safety. Data from the Department of Corrections shows that Kim’s Office has cut prison incarceration in half during her first term. These changes are dramatic and have been made without any corresponding increase in crime.
- Kim will continue reviewing convictions through our Conviction Integrity Unit. Kim has fought tirelessly to right old wrongs and ensure that St. Louis can be confident in the accuracy and justice of criminal convictions. Her Conviction Integrity Unit is currently fighting against the courts and the Attorney General to free Lamar Johnson, who was wrongfully convicted of a murder after the police and prosecutors invented evidence and paid a witness to testify against him.
Kim also supports a strong, trusting relationship between the community and the police. Through her policies, she ensures that police officers do not have any incentive to engage in misconduct.
- Kim dismissed 91 cases that relied on the testimony of indicted St. Louis police officers
- She has publicly committed to not using the testimony of officers who have been found to be untruthful, engaged in misconduct, or publicly made comments evidencing racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice