End Mass Incarceration & Reform Cash Bail
Stop overcharging AND prosecuting insufficient and insignificant cases
The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office places too much emphasis on prosecuting non-violent drug and property crimes, often with insufficient or unreliable evidence. When a Prosecutor operates in this manner, they are acting as an arm of the police rather than a guardian of the public trust in its own right. This clogs the courts, delays trials, and contributes to the County’s high incarceration rate. Meanwhile, witnesses’ disappear, their memory fades, and successful prosecution of serious violent crime plummets. This toxic practice that prizes prosecution rates over promoting justice focuses on winning convictions at any cost, often at the cost of justice itself. Wesley Bell will decline to prosecute cases forwarded by the police that lack support by sufficient and legally obtained evidence, and promises not to “over-charge” in order to force guilty pleas.
Treat Addiction as a disease, not a crime
In the last two years, St. Louis County has had two to three times as many drug overdose deaths as deaths by homicide. Wesley Bell knows that the solution to drug addiction is treatment, not incarceration. Prisons are ill-equipped to treat addiction. Presently, only 15% of offenders in St. Louis County are provided the opportunity to participate in drug court treatment programs, which highlights the shortcomings of the current system -- drug addiction is being punished and not treated. As Prosecuting Attorney, Wesley will expand St. Louis County’s drug and mental health court capacity and increase opportunities for diversion, allowing those arrested for drug possession or for minor offenses due to addiction to get the treatment they need instead of incarceration.
STOP CASH BAIL IMPRISONMENT
The use of Cash Bail criminalizes poverty. Many of the people held in St. Louis County Justice Center have not been convicted – they simply are too poor to afford bail, often as little as $1000. In the meantime, wealthy individuals who are charged with the same offense are able to buy their freedom. While suspects who pose a danger to others or who may not return for trial will still be held, Wesley will implement alternatives to cash bail for those charged with nonviolent offenses, including pre-trial GPS monitoring, and regular check-ins.
REview past convictions, free the wrongfully convicted
Wesley is dedicated to ensuring no one spends time in prison for a crime they did not commit. Wesley will ensure all potentially exculpatory evidence (evidence that potentially shows innocence) is shared with the defense, as well as create a task force to identify factors leading to wrongful convictions and develop a report on remedial action plans and their success. Wesley will also fully staff a Convictions Integrity Unit that will require ‘open file’ transparency with defense and innocence organizations to ensure that all barriers to fair prosecution are identified and remediated.