Host Margot Patterson interviews Jackson Beck, Program Associate at the Vera Institute for Justice, a non-profit national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for transformation of the criminal legal and immigration system so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are incarcerated; and everyone behind bars is treated with dignity.


Jackson Beck is a Program Associate in Vera’s Redefining Public Safety program. His projects focus on improving responses and promoting community-based care for people with unmet behavioral health needs.

People experiencing behavioral health crises are in urgent need of compassion, care, and support to ease their distress, to keep them safe, and to plan for their ongoing wellbeing. In the vast majority of jurisdictions, police officers – as default first responders for 911 calls – are tasked with meeting these needs. They are often ill-equipped to do so. Indeed, officer involvement can make these situations worse; this is particularly true in Black communities and other communities of color, which have disproportionately shouldered the harms of policing. Research conducted nationwide shows that most Black people, in contrast to most white people, live with the fear that police will hurt them or their family members. The tragic police killings of Daniel Prude, Deborah Danner, Walter Wallace Jr., Joseph DeWayne Robinson, and far too many others experiencing behavioral health crises have driven community demands for systemic change.

As a result, an increasing number of jurisdictions are developing civilian-led crisis response programs. Staffed by unarmed teams of clinicians, peers, and other specially trained civilian responders, such programs are demonstrating that they can safely act as an alternative to police for people in crisis. However, to truly address the needs of people most harmed by the status quo, jurisdictions must work to eliminate racial disparities and improve outcomes for everyone as they plan, implement, and evaluate these programs. In other words, crisis response programs must prioritize antiracism and equity.

Our guest, Jackson Beck, will discuss with Margot what an antiracist and equitable crisis response program looks like.


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

During the second part of our hour, host Melvin Merritt talks with Iryna Yeromenko, who was born in Donetsk Ukraine.  She and her family came to the United States in 2009.  They live in Kansas City.


Conflict in Ukraine has been a daily part of our news since the Russian invasion in February, 2022.  Iryna and Melvin will explain that shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine voted for independence on December 1, 1991. The Ukrainian people overwhelmingly supported becoming a sovereign state. Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe by land-mass and has a sizable population of ethnic Russians.

Russia seized Crimea in Ukraine in 2014.  Political turmoil has been the state of Ukraine since Putin has been in power.

Iryna has been active in trying to help citizens in Ukraine and citizens who have left but who are still living with trauma.  She provides counselling services.


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 2014.

Calendar for the week of May 2nd:

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!
  • MON, May 2nd, 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, May 3rd, 6 PM, NTOSAKE: We Are the Women We’ve Been Waiting For…, is an online event hosted by More². More info at More² on Facebook.
  • WED, May 4th, 5 PM, at Rockhurst Community Center, 5401 Troost Ave, Kansas City, MO, More² is having an Individual Members Social Mingle. You can enjoy music, food, and drinks with other individual members in the organization. They will share various issues the organization is currently working on as well as recap victories won in the past. Don’t show up without a friend! The event is open to anyone in the community. Please register at More² on Facebook.
  • FRI, May 6th, 11 AM, is EmpowerMissouri’s Criminal Justice Coalition virtual meeting, access info at https://empowermissouri.org/events/
  • SAT, May 7th, 11:30 AM, Tenant Awakening at the Trinity United Methodist Church Parking Lot, 620 E Armour Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64109 is an event by KC Tenants, open to anyone. KC Tenants is building a citywide tenant union. At the rally, you can hear stories from tenants who have organized unions, share details on how everyone in the city can get involved, and afterward a group will go out and knock on doors. RSVP on Facebook at KC Tenants.
  • SAT, May 7th 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. They invite everyone affected by incarceration or who wants to be an Advocate for Justice.
  • A list of services, meals, and hot lines are available at https://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!


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