Justice Matters assembly pushes for action on community issues, calls out local leaders

March 30, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

An assembly hosted by faith group Justice Matters on Thursday brought up community issues such as mental health, affordable housing and school equity, and event organizers weren’t shy in voicing their disappointment that not all local leaders attended.

The conclusion of the third annual Nehemiah Action Assembly likely sent cell phones of two local leaders — School Board President Marcel Harmon and Douglas County Commission Chair Mike Gaughan — buzzing with text messages after their numbers were projected in front of the nearly full Lied Center and the approximately 1,500 attendees were encouraged to text them.

Douglas County Commission hears but doesn’t commit to Justice Matters’ request for interim mental health crisis intervention center

March 15, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

The Douglas County Commission received but didn’t commit to a request from interfaith group Justice Matters to renovate an existing building for use as a mental health crisis intervention center that could be opened this year.

Whether it be jail issues or racism, Justice Matters vows to be voice of the ‘unheard’

January 30, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

As it looks to its fourth year since its formation, the Lawrence interfaith group Justice Matters points to victories won through its mobilization of “people power” and vows to carry on the fight for advances on local issues its members have identified.

“None of us as individuals or as faith groups have the influence, the clout or the money to really affect change,” said Pat Lechtenberg, Justice Matters recording secretary. “But by coming together as a large group of people — and there were more than 1,700 of us at the Lied Center at our founding convention — we can make a difference.”

Lawrence faith leaders push for crisis center over jail expansion

November 1, 2016. KSHB 41.

LAWRENCE, Kan. – While Douglas County considers a $30 million proposal that would expand its jail, a large group of faith leaders are pushing for what they believe is an alternative approach that would dramatically cut down on arrests.

“Put fewer people in jail and provide good mental healthcare for those who need it,” said Joanna Harader, pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence and spokesperson for Justice Matters.

Justice Matters calls for suspension of jail expansion funding, establishment of crisis center in new report

October 26, 2016. Lawrence Journal-World.

Local interfaith coalition Justice Matters released a list of six recommendations Wednesday as part of a report on the county’s criminal justice reform plans, including calls for the immediate establishment of a crisis center and suspension of all funding for the proposed expansion of the Douglas County Jail.

The group’s report argues that the county should explore programs that have proven safe and successful elsewhere before moving forward on the $30 million jail expansion project, said Ben MacConnell, the group’s lead organizer.