ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County families are invited to attend the Movement for Criminal Justice Reform Town Hall meeting which will discuss reducing mass incarceration on Thursday evening.
St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell will be speaking about his efforts to reduce the number of non-violent offenders from sitting in jail.
In 101 days in office, he’s reduced the non-violent population by 11 percent, the lowest since 2002. Bell said he still plans to hold violent and serious offenders accountable for their actions.
Bell has focused on bail reform to keep more non-violent offenders out of jail. He said the statistics show that if a person spends five days in jail they have a 50 percent chance of returning to jail at some point.
Bell’s also using his diversion advisory committee to individualize resources that gets non-violent offenders back on their feet and setup for success.
"Some need counseling, some need substance abuse,” Bell said. “Some need mental healthcare. The more community partners that we have, the partners that cost tax payers not a dime, the more we have the more types of treatment we can offer."
When people can’t break the cycle of jail they become unproductive citizens; struggle to keep jobs, have problems providing for their families, reduce the amount of tax revenue they generate and make them less-productive citizens Bell said.
Reducing the non-violent population in jail allows the staff to better do their jobs and saves the county tax dollars.
"A 5 percent decrease saves Saint Louis County $150,000,” Bell said.
Bell said his efforts to reduce the non-violent population has already saved tax payers more than $350,000 and he plans to continue his efforts.
The town hall will be hosted by Color of Change and the St. Louis Reform Coalition at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.