By The Council of State Governments Justice Center Staff
On December 7, Missouri became the fifteenth and final state this year to host a state forum on public safety and continue the discussions begun at the 50-State Summit on Public Safety in November 2017 in Washington, DC. The forum was facilitated by staff from The Council of State Governments Justice Center and covered a variety of topics related to crime, victims, public safety, and more.
Missouri Governor Michael Parson and Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe were featured speakers at the forum and were among a number of state leaders who voiced support for the state’s use of a Justice Reinvestment approach to make criminal justice system improvements. This approach resulted in the June 2018 passage of comprehensive legislation that aims to help reduce violent crime by providing resources to local law enforcement, increase community-based treatment for people in the criminal justice system who have substance addictions and mental illnesses, enhance support for victims, and implement evidence-based correctional practices to reduce revocations and recidivism, among other measures. Implementation of these changes is now underway.
Panel discussions at the forum addressed many of these same topics and focused on examining the state’s current approaches to improve public safety, bolstering infrastructure to better support victims of crime, addressing behavioral health needs of people in the criminal justice system, understanding crime and supporting law enforcement, and reducing revocations and recidivism. Approximately 150 people attended, including state legislators, judges, representatives from criminal justice and behavioral health state and county agencies, law enforcement officials, defense attorneys, community-based behavioral health providers, and victim advocates. Stakeholders exhibited a commitment to tackling public safety challenges by using interagency and collaborative solutions.
The state forums on public safety kicked off earlier this year with the Vermont and Ohio forums in April, followed by Michigan, Oregon, and Wyoming; New Mexico, Iowa, and Connecticut; Hawaii; North Dakota; Illinois and Montana; and California and Virginia in subsequent months. The U.S Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance selected multiple states to host individual state forums on public safety following last year’s 50-State Summit on Public Safety.