Activist groups kick off their campaign against jail expansion

March 3, 2018. The Lawrence Journal-World.

Representatives of four activist groups crowded the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse Saturday to kick off their joint campaign against a proposed expansion of the county jail and a referendum on a sales tax that would fund it.

“We are planning a comprehensive campaign with many partners right up to that mail-in ballot,” said Ted Mosher, co-chairman of the Lawrence faith-based activist group Justice Matters.

Justice Matters is one of the four groups behind the campaign, which the activists are calling “Jail No.” The other partners — the Lawrence chapter of the NAACP, the social justice advocacy group Kansas Appleseed and the taxpayer watchdog group Lawrence Sunset Alliance — also turned out Saturday to speak against the jail expansion and the half-cent sales tax.

Douglas County Commission to forward report on future jail population to architects

July 26, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

After learning Wednesday of a new issue that has the county jail occasionally housing more inmates than its 186-bed capacity, Douglas County commissioners agreed a report on future jail population numbers should be shared with architects so they can update jail expansion plans.

Drug court judge seeks emergency fund for participants in treatment program

July 13, 2017. Insider Louisville.

District Court Judge Stephanie Pearce Burke says her speciality drug court in Jefferson County designed to steer criminal defendants toward addiction treatment instead of jail is producing good results, but it’s only at half-capacity and in need of discretionary funds to help participants in crisis pay for housing, medication and food to increase their odds of completing the program.

Earlier this week, Burke participated in the inaugural criminal justice roundtable of city leaders created by Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT), a faith-based social justice group.

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.