Should there be a new youth prison built or should there be a rebuilding of how we handle the school to prison pipeline? The facility proposed in north St. Louis will increase the city's capacity to house youth even as the Hogan Street facility sits more than half empty. Can we reimagine using some of the $7.2 million to provide adequate security, professional staffing to handle specific issues, incentive programing, and a faith ministry to help rehabilitate a life worth living?
EXPO (ExIncarcerated People Organizing), the transformative justice team of Metropolitan Congregations United and affected families have a plea for the lawmakers to decide on an alternative plan that will focus on best practices for preventing recidivism in our city. There must be a more humane hope for these youth that have made unfavorable choices in life.
Spending over 7 million dollars on a new youth jail is aligned with a recent trend of the state of Missouri increasing policing, prosecution, and imprisonment. The population of the city jail is increasing at an alarming rate. State control of local police along with a new circuit attorney taking over creates the same conditions that drive incarceration and weakens the hope St. Louisians have for the future of our youth.
Our efforts are to push for restorative justice practices as the number one option when it relates to youth. Any youth facility, existing or proposed, should be designed to maximize the opportunity to engage our youth in a positive way focused on conflict resolution, mental health and the latest best practices to deter kids from the juvenile justice system. Failure to do that is a generational failure that must be prevented.
I am asking any congregations, organizations, and individuals that want to prevent a swell in youth incarceration in our city to attend the June 13th M.C.U. Monthly Member Assembly that will be held St. Louis Friends Meeting, 1001 Park Ave, Saint Louis, MO 63104. Directly impacted leaders from congregations and community organizations will be educating the public and determining the best course of action. Register at bit.ly/MCUJune23Assembly. See you there.