Justice System

St. Louis County gets $2.25 million, city gets $50,000 to cut jail population, reform justice system

October 24, 2018 – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The grants from the MacArthur Foundation are part of a $148 million national initiative by the foundation and the Urban Institute to reduce misuse and overuse of jails and “change the way America thinks about and uses jails…

In St. Louis, about 17,000 people go through the city jail system each year, according to officials. People detained on misdemeanor offenses stayed in jail an average of 43 days; people detained on federal offenses stayed an average of 203 days. The city’s jail capacity is 1,998 people.

In recent weeks, activists have put pressure on officials to close the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, known informally as the City Workhouse, which holds roughly 550 people, most of whom are awaiting trial.

read more

also see the summary of our Women’s Voices Lunch & Learn about the City Workhouse here.

also read Linda Zazove’s letter to the editor on behalf of Women’s Voices regarding the City Workhouse here

A Victory for Youth in Missouri!

Following a unanimous Senate victory in March, Missouri’s “Raise the Age” bill has now passed the House and is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law! Thank you to Senator @Wayne Wallingford and @State Representative Nick Schroer for making #RaisetheAgeMO a reality!


Thanks to everyone who “took action” and advocated to #RaisetheAge.

ArchCity Defenders Receives Ethics in Action Award

October 20, 2016

Thomas Harvey and Michael-John Voss, co-founders ArchCity Defenders

Thomas Harvey and Michael-John Voss, co-founders ArchCity Defenders

We congratulate ArchCity Defenders on receiving The Ethical Society of St. Louis Ethics in Action Award and are proud that we had an opportunity to write a letter in support of the nomination.  In his tribute at the award ceremony October 20, Brendan Roediger, Associate Professor at St. Louis University School of Law, noted that when 3 young law students came to him with the idea of starting a non-profit practice to help the poor, his reaction was skepticism and disbelief that they would be successful.  But not only were they successful, he says they have shown him how to be a better lawyer.   He remarked that at the close of civil suits, lawyers present what is called a “prayer for relief,” but Michael-John Voss and Thomas Harvey do more, they “get into the lives of the people they represent.” The clients of ArchCity need relief not only from the injustice in the municipal justice system but relief from poverty. Kayla Reed an activist with Organization for Black Struggle agreed that Harvey and Voss do more than just defend their clients – “they show up, they listen, they learn, and they educate.” In accepting the award, Thomas Harvey urged us to action saying that lawyers are only a tool in the process; we all need to work as a community to achieve justice.

Representing Women’s Voices at the ceremony:  Judy Arnold, Becky Clausen, Mary Clemons, Allison Hile, Deb Lavender, Nancy Price and Stephanie Sigala.

Law Enforcement

April 2015

Women’s Voices signed on to a letter from the “Don’t Shoot Coalition” supporting SB559, the Fair and Impartial Policing Act.  The letter reads:

We recognize that biased policing has been a longstanding and troubling problem in Missouri and across the nation.  Furthermore, biased policing undermines our shared American values of justice and fairness. The Fair and Impartial Policing Act was designed to address this longstanding issue, protect our constitutional values, and build stronger relationships in the community through a variety of requirements, including:

  •  Law enforcement to document pedestrian stops and that pedestrian stop data be included in the Attorney General’s report.
  • Law enforcement agencies to adopt a policy prohibiting biased-based policing.
  • Requiring tightened procedures to guarantee the protection of constitutional rights during searches.
  • Creating Community-Law Enforcement partnership to build trust and understanding and lift up agencies that have demonstrated a commitment to addressing issues of biased-based policing.

If data reveals that law enforcement agencies engage in patterns and practices of biased-based policing, the agency will be given a variety of technical support measures and tools before being reviewed by the Peace Officers and Standards Training (POST) Commission for possible sanctions.

The organizations that signed the letter are asking members of the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence to vote this bill out of committee.

Court Reform

Women’s Voices supports a fair and equitable justice system.  One of the issues receiving public attention in the aftermath of Ferguson is court reform in St. Louis County.

The Justice Gap     January 9, 2014

Thomas Harvey; Daniel Glazier

Thomas Harvey; Daniel Glazier

Speakers: Daniel K. Glazier, executive director and general counsel, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
Thomas Harvey, co-founder and executive director of Arch City Defenders

Thomas Harvey said Arch City Defenders which was founded in 2009 by three recent graduates of Saint Louis University Law School], bridges the gap between the public defenders, who handle only criminal cases, and Legal Services, which handles only civil cases, by providing their clients– primarily homeless people– with both types of representation. In addition, Arch City helps its clients access a broad range of social service support. Harvey explained that because of “a cascade of events that are stacked against them,” clients, who are “in no way hardened criminals,” need help to get back into a home and on a path to recovery.  Read more

Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan

Ballot Measure,  Amendment 3   November, 2012

Women’s Voices opposed Constitutional Amendment 3 which would have changed the way appellate court judges are selected and would have given more power to the governor to select judges. This amendment had the potential to politicize the judicial selection process.

Amendment 3 failed and the Missouri’s non-partisan court plan serves as a model for a number of other states.

Death Penalty

Members of Women’s Voices voted unanimously in March 2007 to endorse a resolution calling for a moratorium on death penalty executions in the state of Missouri.