Host Bev Livingston speaks with Janay Reliford-Davis of Camp CHOICE.


Camp CHOICE is a life enrichment company serving youth ages 5-24. Camp CHOICE teaches vital life skills to help youth understand the impact of choices.  The Camp CHOICE mission is to provide youth life enrichment experiences that benefit their present and future spiritual, physical, educational, and social well-being.

Camp CHOICE is having an upcoming event:  You Have the Right to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS April 30th to May 1st, 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM,  a virtual event for middle and high school youth.

We’ll play our calendar at the midpoint of the hour.

For the second half of the hour, our topic is how police are learning to deal with the mentally ill.  Police are looking for compassionate ways to serve and protect them. There are thousands of low-level offenders with mental health problems and they need steered to treatment rather than jail.  This would save millions of dollars as treatment is less expensive than jail.

Law enforcement officers in the Kansas City area are looking at methods to reduce the number of mentally ill people entering the criminal justice system. One of the first steps is to train police to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions.

One of the most vocal proponents of treatment over incarceration is Donavan Gardner of Kansas City, Kan. As a young man with bipolar disorder, Gardner was arrested several times on minor charges. He was in and out of jail and hospitals after his uncontrollable mood swings led him into trouble with authorities.

Since then, Gardner has found ways to stay on his medication and avoid conflicts with police. He now mentors people with mental illness in Kansas City, Kan., and has served on the Unified Government’s advisory committee on disability issues.



Donavan Gardner is an advocate of Crisis Intervention Training for police as a method to avoid letting otherwise non-criminal encounters with the mentally ill end in jail.  On the surface, a mental health episode looks like suspicious behavior. A person is not answering questions, not making eye contact, can seem to be hiding something and does not accept instruction.

Jail is the last place to take a person who needs mental health treatment.   24 hours a day, seven days a week, they need to be encouraged to cooperate and communicate. The persistently mentally ill still often have nowhere to go but jail.  The number one mental health facility in our communities may very well be the jail.  In that respect, we’re really not helping them.

On Jaws of Justice, we examine how to find justice in our society.  Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

Calendar for the week of March 21st:

  • The Kansas City Chapter of Missouri Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants has a monthly virtual meeting. MO CURE advocates for the human rights of prisoners in Missouri prisons and jails as well as those who have returned to society.   For info call Keith Brown El at 816-377-2873.
  • WED, March 23rd, 9 AM, Good Morning Indian Country: 9-10: am, is a live-streamed talk show from the Lawrence Arts Center.  Can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/event/1863898
  • WED, March 23rd, 6 PM, MADP Monthly Meetup – discussion by members of the legal community that work for those on Missouri’s death row about the criminal legal system and how the death penalty is shaped in Missouri. For more info or for questions please contact [email protected]
  • FRI, March 25th, 11 AM, Empower Missouri’s Criminal Justice Coalition is online. Access at https://empowermissouri.org/
  • A list of services, meals, and hot lines are available at https://lawrenceprogressivecalendar.blogspot.com/

Thanks to all our listeners, stay close to your dial and stay well!



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