Many politicians run on issues, which relate to what their team has surveyed and polled from the community.
Criminal Justice covers a lot of territory, when speaking about both the crimes and the system. Despite how one’s personal views are voiced, anyone confined to prisons here in the United States of America, the Republic, LLC, has human rights.
For centuries, with every deliberate intent to harm or kill, rights for incarcerated persons were denied solely based upon the system interpretation and the hidden clauses to keep persons held captive as slaves.
Persons could work but not vote. Some could vote but not work. They could pay their taxes but not vote. They served their time but were still stopped by the police for DWB (driving while black).
Certified juveniles are placed in adult corrections facilities while awaiting trial, subjected to rapes, extortions, and abuse of many kinds. Families, deemed as the only care provider, often are arrested and removed from their children for nonviolent crimes, as the children suffer through DFS or disgruntled family members.
Many have fought, through protesting and advocacy, to remove these barriers, but once the baton was passed to Senator Brian Williams of MO, things slowly began to change. The advocates continue to visit Jefferson City Capitol of Missouri to push bill SB 53.
Senator Williams remains firm in his stances, even when asked to consider running for a higher political office. He basically said that the people voted him here and that’s where he will work from for the people. With help from others, he pushed SB 53.
He saw the pain firsthand in Ferguson, MO, with the way police officers dealt with mere traffic tickets and how the courts railroad persons in fines and court costs. Senator Williams’ bill SB 53 will allow persons to have their records expunged; even those with an unlawful use of a weapon. Yes, not all felonies are eligible but it a huge start.
Juveniles will not be protected if certified. Police officers are no longer allowed to use the choke hold for restraining a suspect. Women, and I know this to be true as I teach classes in local jails, were denied FREE feminine hygiene products and much was the due to the correctional’s dislike towards that person.
In Missouri correctional institutions, some wardens were using the canteen funds for its designed purpose. All canteen funds are the profits of what incarcerated persons have spent from incoming funds or the monthly slave allowance, which ranges from $7.50 – $45 per month in the state prisons.
Those funds can now ONLY be spent for education, recreation, religious and re-entry services. I’m not sure what re-entry services are, and as a former incarcerated person, I have yet to see what they are spending those funds on.
Back to this historical event, which should travel all around the country.
When you are placed in a position to free people, help people, encourage people, and assist people, as a human being, you have a moral obligation to meet that agenda.
Senator Williams’ professional boldness, yet humbleness, his tenacity while being very classy and elegant, and not demeaning anyone but standing tall on his beliefs, is a model many should follow.
Former incarcerated persons all the around the country need this support.
While some states have adapted these measures, the Criminal Justice system still has a long way to go before their released papers from systemic racism, mass incarceration, denial of voter’s rights, felony for parents unable to pay child support, juvenile abuse, women and men sexual abuse in prison by officers, along with denial of health care and decent meals, can be issued.
Finally, Manasseh Ministry, along with so many others, are in conversation with Senator Williams’ office as we move to the next step of preventing mistreatment of formerly incarcerated and sentenced persons, and providing what real re-entry services look like.
We salute Senator Brian Williams of MO and his staff for pushing the lever forward as we all seek to dismantle the unfair and unjust legal system.
Until next time, my time is up, and thank you for sharing yours with my column.
– Pastor Jackson