DIVERSION PROGRAMS FOR NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS >>
- Diversion Programs are a form of alternative sentencing where non-violent offenders agree to participate in programs supervised by the Court where they will be connected with the resources and opportunities they need to succeed in order to reduce future contacts with the criminal justice system.
- Wesley understands society cannot punish people out of poverty and recognizes the consequences of being labeled a felon, including the difficulty associated with finding a job and housing once someone has been convicted of a felony. Wesley will work to reduce the number of St. Louis County residents who are labeled felons through a holistic approach to prosecution of non-violent offenders, while also ensuring accountability where appropriate.
ADDICTION IS A DISEASE, NOT A CRIME >>
- Approximately 80% of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol, with 60% to 80% of drug abusers committing a new, often drug-related crime after being released from jail or prison. 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. Wesley wants to end mass incarceration, and he recognizes we need to address the root cause and a significant motivator for crime - substance abuse - through robust treatment programs.
INCREASE THE USE OF MENTAL HEALTH DOCKETS >>
- More than half of all inmates suffer from mental health illnesses, but only a tiny fraction receive treatment while incarcerated. In St. Louis County, the current mental health docket has only 10 participants. This demonstrates the current administration’s lack of commitment to preventing recidivism as well as their blindness and apathy to the needs of the community and public safety in general. Wesley is committed to building an infrastructure in which the chances of offenders re-offending are greatly reduced, safety is greatly increased, and trust with the community is rebuilt.
- Wesley plans to build partnerships in the community and bring in resources such as job training and placement, as well as drug addiction and mental health treatment. For years the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office has subscribed to the “arrest and incarcerate” model of criminal justice. This model works for no one. Wes’ fresh approach will reduce crime, save money, provide accountability, and free up resources to prosecute violent crime.
BUILD A SYSTEM TO REDUCE WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS >>
- Wesley is dedicated to ensuring no one spends time in prison for a crime they did not commit. He will create a task force to identify factors leading to wrongful convictions and develop a report on remedial action plans and their success. Wesley will create 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.
STOP CASH BAIL IMPRISONMENT >>
- Each year, thousands of individuals sit in the St. Louis County Justice Center because they cannot afford bail. A large percentage of them have not been convicted of a crime, they are awaiting trial (pre-trial detention). The current administration imposes a disproportionate burden on poor and impoverished individuals and uses the cash bail system as a punitive measure. The bail system is supposed to assess just two things, (1) whether an individual is a danger to the community or themselves, and (2) whether they will return to court if they are released. Furthermore, it costs the community $40,000 per year per inmate housed at the Justice Center, and while the accused are sitting in jail, they lose their jobs and their housing, only driving them deeper into poverty and increasing the likelihood of future desperate criminal behavior. Using his prosecutorial discretion, Wesley will not oppose bond reductions if the accused is neither a danger to the community, themselves, nor a flight risk.