On November 7th, host Terri Wilke speaks with Jamie Thayer, who several years ago was Probation and Parole Officer for the State of Missouri.  At that time, she blew the whistle about how probation and parole is, or is not, working in Missouri.

In 2017, Missouri faced criminal justice challenges which including rising violent crime rates and prison overcrowding. The bipartisan Missouri State Justice Reinvestment Task Force was formed to address the issues. The task force worked with the nonpartisan, nonprofit Council of State Governments (CSG) to gather and analyze Missouri criminal justice data which showed, in 2017, Missouri had:

  • The eighth-highest incarceration rate in the United States
  • The fastest-growing female prison population in the United States
  • An increasing violent crime rate but a decrease in violent crime arrests
  • Insufficient behavioral health resources
  • A high rate of prison admissions driven by factors other than new crimes; about half of new admissions were for technical violations of probation or parole

At that time, Missouri sought technical assistance under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) program to address various challenges in the state’s criminal justice system. The policies adopted by the state were signed into law in June 2018. Missouri has met and exceeded early implementation projections in JRI priority policy areas. The prison population continued to decline following the implementation of sentencing changes in 2017 and JRI reforms in 2018. The Missouri Parole Board completed an overhaul of its decision-making processes in 2019. And a substance use treatment program pilot has transitioned into a sustained community program with 7 providers serving individuals in 10 locations across the state.

Our guest, Jamie Thayer, was called a whistleblower by the press in 2020.

The new way of doing business for Probation and Parole officers is called the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Part of that is the Missouri Offender Management Matrix. It’s used to determine what drives a person toward criminal behavior and the likelihood they will do it again. As part of the program, officers are asked to give incentives, like gift cards, if criminals do what they are supposed to do.  For example, pass a drug test.

But Jamie Thayer reported that parolees learned Dept of Corrections had no interest in returning them to prison.  She worried people might be emboldened to commit criminal acts.  She says she wants to ‘blow the whistle’ on a system that she says needs major improvement.

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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 November 7th:

  • Legal Aid of Western Missouri provides free civil legal services to low-income and vulnerable people in Jackson CTY Missouri. Interested individuals can call 816-474-6750 to apply.
  • Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a very active group of Mothers and others. You can learn where their virtual meetings this week will occur at  https://momsdemandaction.org/events/
  • MON, Nov. 7th, 6:45 PM, Kansas City Criminal Justice Task Force is meeting via conference call if you like to join in. Conference call # : 605-313-5573 and when prompted, type in 454777
  • WED, Nov. 9th, 10 AM – 2 PM Thanksgiving Food Drive for Harvesters is at St Andrew Church, 13890 W 127th St, Kansas City KS This is a non-perishable food drive for Harvesters. Please, drop off food outside front door on rolling cart.
  • THURS, Nov. 10th, 7 PM, Stand With Dialogue Institute and Raindrop Foundation Against Hate meeting at 13720 Roe Ave, Leawood KS. The nonprofit Dialogue Institute and Raindrop Foundation – whose leadership and community are primarily Muslims of Turkish origin – aim to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures.
  • SAT, Nov, 12th, NOON, Mothers of Incarcerated Sons & Daughters KC at Plexpod Westport Commons centrally located on bus line, easy to find at 300 E. 39th St KCMO (Annex A) meeting room with convenient parking and much more.

Stay safe. Be kind to each other. Thanks for listening to Jaws of Justice.


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