Justice Ministry calls for outside review of Charleston Police Department

November 22, 2016. The Post and Courier.

A day after Charleston officials touted the progress their police department has made in building trust with the community, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry said that wasn’t enough and urged City Council to hire a specialized firm to conduct an outside review of the department.

The interfaith group held a press conference announcing its position in Washington Square, just minutes before City Council’s Tuesday meeting next door at City Hall. Members of the ministry then repeated their message during the meeting and presented a petition from 500 residents calling for the audit.

Ministry officials said they want “a qualified, independent, external police auditor” to conduct a review of the police department to identify any policing tactics and policies rooted in racial biases.

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.

Statewide push on for juvenile citations rather than arrests in minor offenses

October 26, 2016. TBO.com

About midway through the 28th annual conference of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, Father John Tapp took the pulpit.

For the 600 or so churchgoers gathered in the sanctuary at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Temple Terrace, it was time for confession.

“Let’s think back to our own childhood and teenage years. If I name something you did while under 18, please stand and remain standing,” Tapp said to the laughing but obedient crowd.