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.

Lawrence Religious Leaders Seek Alternative To Jail For People With Mental Illness

October 28, 2016. kcur.org

As communities across Kansas struggle to accommodate an influx of people with mental illness in their criminal justice systems, religious leaders are calling for a new approach in Lawrence.

A group called Justice Matters, which represents 23 congregations, released a report this week called “Restorative Justice at Home.” The report contains several recommendations to beef up Douglas County’s mental health treatment options as an alternative to a proposed expansion of the county jail.