Latahra Smith, Founder of KC Freedom Project, talks with Michelle Smith, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach with Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Michelle is a criminal legal system impacted advocate who experienced incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic. This made her more intimately aware of the dire reality faced by our imprisoned populations as well as the egregious actions and apathetic behavior by the vast majority of institution staff and administrators. She is dedicated to using her experiences, knowledge, determination, and voice in the struggle for equity, justice and recognition of humanity. Michelle’s advocacy efforts extend to all facets of mass incarceration, including wrongful convictions, higher education for systems impacted people, humane and adequate healthcare, legislative reforms, and decarceration. Michelle is a graduate of the From Prison Cells to PhD (P2P) Program, serves on Boards of Directors for several grassroots organizations, is a State Empathy Leader and she is a member of the Federal Advisory Council.
She and Latahra will speak about support and push for Missouri H.B. 25234, the Informant Reliability Act, which will get Missouri on a similar footing as other states, such as Texas and Oklahoma. In Missouri, it still much is easier to convict an innocent person than it is to right a wrongful conviction.
Data found on The National Registry of Exonerations lists 2,991 exonerations as of February 24, 2022. The Registry began this tracking in 1989 and has calculated that these nearly 3,000 individuals have lost more than 26,500 years of their lives to wrongful conviction and unjust incarceration.
There is a trope that everyone in prison claims to be innocent, and we understand that this isn’t the case. However, we must understand the significant prevalence of innocent people being wrongfully convicted and unjustly incarcerated.
We will play our calendar at the middle of the hour, then host Margot Patterson interviews Sharon Brett, Legal Director of the Kansas chapter of the ACLU. Their fairly wide-ranging conversation focuses on ACLU’s work promoting criminal justice reform and combatting racial injustice.
We hope you will listen. 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 7th:
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you can find a vaccine. See the FAQS at https://www.kcmo.gov
- Legal Aid of Western Missouri can provide free legal assistance to low-income and vulnerable Jackson County homeowners who fall behind on their payments and face foreclosure. Interested individuals can call 816-474-6750 to apply.
- You can find Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense events at https://momsdemandaction.org/events/. Open to all, Mothers and others! This is Missouri advocacy week.
- MON, March 7th, 6:45 PM KCCJTF has been meeting via conference call if you would like to join in, you can call 605-313-5573 and when asked for code then enter 454777
- TUES, March 8th, 3 – 6 PM, Community Cocktails at J Rieger & Co, who will be donating 20% of all beverage sales from 3 – 6 PM to United We in honor of International Women’s Day.
- WED, March 9th, on podcast Wrongful Conviction by Lava for Good, The Ken Middleton story.
- THURS, March 10th, 6:30 PM, Womontown Screening & Panel Discussion at the Kansas City Museum, JE Dunn Construction Theater, 3rd There is no charge, but tickets are required and available on Eventbrite.www.eventbrite.com/e/womontown-screening-panel-discussion-tickets-262150618557 Womontown is a new documentary about a group of women in 1980s Kansas City who defied gender norms, transforming 14 city blocks in the Longfellow neighborhood into a revolutionary community by and for women.
- FRI, March 11th, 11 AM, is EmpowerMissouri’s Criminal Justice Coalition virtual meeting, access info at https://empowermissouri.org/events/
- SAT, March12th at Noon, Mothers of Incarcerated Sons & Daughters, MISDKC, meets at the Plexpod Westport Commons to offer information about state/federal criminal justice systems, support/advocacy for self and the incarcerated, legislative bills, lobby for laws/reforms, events, self-help, community news and actions are shared and much more. Many leave feeling empowered, not alone and overwhelmed.
- SAT, March 12th, 9:30 AM is the League of Women Voters of Greater Kansas City Monthly Meeting, an online event. At 10 AM, League of Women Voters – Johnson County KS are having an online Legislative Coffee. See access info for each event on Facebook.
- SAT, March 12th, International Women’s Day Rally: 1 PM, at Mill Creek Park, Main at 47th St, KCMO. For info, contact Eyyup at [email protected]
- SAT March 12th, 12:30 PM, Public Safety Forum at the Mohart Center, 3200 Wayne, KCMO. Public Safety is our biggest expenditure. Come out get an understanding and learn ways to engage… #bellington #3rdAtLarge #ipleadthe3rd #nomoreexcusescoalition #Gyrl #whatzreal #realtalk #NoMoreExcusesCoalition #iammybrotherkeeper #kcmo
- A list of services, meals, and hot lines are available at lawrenceprogressivecalendar.blogspot.com. It is updated daily.
Please take care of yourselves and others. Thanks to all our listeners, stay close to your dial and stay well!