FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As Kansas’ crime rate fell in recent decades, its prison population more than quadrupled and is now beyond capacity.
This phenomenon is not unique to Kansas and reflects a national trend. The United States, home to a mere 5% of the world’s population, houses 25% of the world’s prisoners. This mass incarceration destroys lives. The result is not rehabilitation, but high rates of recidivism.
A discussion, “Smart Justice and the American Dream,” is set for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday Jan. 29th at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library’s Marvin Auditorium 101C.
A panel will discuss the criminal and civil court system in Shawnee County, examine County practices, compare statewide efforts, explore how to improve the criminal and civil justice system, investigate the relationship between “cash bail” and plea bargaining, relate the impact of mandatory sentencing on the lives of minor offenders, and advocate alternatives such as diversion, mediation and restorative justice.
Panel members also will discuss ways Shawnee County residents can engage the criminal and civil justice systems in positive ways.
Panel participants include
● Kiana Knolland, Smart Justice Field Organizer, American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas
● Luis Estrada, Community Mobilizer, El Centro Inc.
● Lindsey Anderson, Mediation Director, Topeka Center for Peace and Justice
● Bill Cochran, Chief of Police, City of Topeka
● Brian Cole, Director, Shawnee County Department of Corrections
Note: The Shawnee County District Attorney’s office has been contacted regarding participation and we are hopeful that someone from the office might participate.
Organizers of the event include the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, El Centro Inc., the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, and the League of Women Voters Topeka Shawnee County.
Program Committee Members are Bill Beachy, Teresa Leslie-Canty, Judy Moler, Greg Monaco