Last night’s Candidate Forum on Criminal Justice raised important issues. But, as I reflect on the evening, chief among them is the need for adequate funding of preventative programs that keep people out of our prisons. The legislature has put into place juvenile reform, but has not allocated funds needed to implement it. Appropriately using diversion consistently throughout the state is crippled for the same reason. Lack of mental health care inappropriately places the burden of care on our police force.
The state has an obligation to adequately fund what will help our citizens prosper; education, mental health care, and training for law enforcement all impact the quality of our criminal justice system. We cannot make changes needed to create a more fair and just system until we put our money where our mouth is.
The Republicans actually had three candidates participate this evening. The party talking points skirted the issue of money. Simply being a better neighbor is not enough. While a moral obligation, it is a short-sighted approach with long-term consequences. Our tax money is a shared investment in our society. We should all be paying taxes in a manner that is fair, so that the services we all need, like our justice system, can fully function.
It is time to truly stand up for the citizens of Kansas. Join me on November 8 in the polling booth. Together, we can make it better.
Thank you Mark McCormick, Kansans for Smart Justice, ACLU of Kansas, Kansas Appleseed, Kansas Black Leadership Council, The Community Voice, Jobs and Education – Not Incarceration, League of Women Voters of Witchita-Metro, and Team St. Mark Prison Ministry Group. I am looking forward to future conversation.
You can see KSN coverage here: http://ksn.com/…/sedgwick-county-candidate-forum-shines-li…/