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.

Will civil citations save teen futures?

February 23, 2017. MySuncoast.com

SARASOTA, Fla.(WWSB)–New legislation in Florida is aiming to keep young offenders out of the criminal justice. State Rep. Joe Gruters (R) Sarasota and State Sen. Greg Steube (R) Sarasota are co-sponsoring the bill, which would increase the use of civil citations as an alternative to arrests.

“It’s not something I ever considered or even thought would happen,” said Alvira Simmon.

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.