For Immediate Release
June 10, 2020
The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office wholeheartedly supports citizens of Jackson County making their voices heard. And we are happy to discuss any concerns with them.
Several members of the prosecutor’s office have already met with Latahra Smith, organizer of today’s rally outside the Jackson County Courthouse, regarding the Keith Carnes case and the conviction review unit in our office.
Our office established a conviction review unit in 2017 and has reviewed numerous applications. No case has yet to result in the overturning of a conviction. The Prosecutor’s Office does not have the authority to act on its own regarding excessive sentences; however, we have joined with incarcerated individuals in writing letters of support to the Missouri Governor. We have been successful in one former Governor releasing an incarcerated individual due to serving most of an excessive prison term.
We did ask the governor to release one defendant who was sentenced to an excessive prison term. And the governor acted on that request, releasing the defendant.
The Prosecutor’s Office does have a tremendous role within the criminal justice system and we don’t take that responsibility lightly. While we have always been willing to meet with citizens regarding their concerns of specific cases, we formalized our review of convictions in 2017 by developing a form to be filled out by incarcerated individuals or their lawyers and then submitted to our office. Similar forms and criteria are used throughout the nation in other prosecutor’s Conviction Review Units. Our form can be found at https://www.jacksoncountyprosecutor.com/207/Conviction-Review-Unit
The freedom project stated in their press release that the prosecutor’s office has “remained silent” regarding police reforms or “the murders of black men in Kansas City by the Police Department.” We believe our office has been very much engaged in the efforts for police reforms in Kansas City.
Many of you are aware that Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker spoke at the Black Lives Matter protest on Friday on the steps of City Hall, calling for true police reforms, including no longer allowing police to investigate themselves.
Last week, the prosecutor’s office also issued press statements on our history of pushing for reforms in the criminal justice system. Among those reforms we championed: Outside, independent, neutral investigations must be established for all police officer-involved incidents. Police cannot investigate their own.
We also called for citizens to look closely at police union contract provisions that offer additional advantages to officers being investigated. We called for community policing because it might heal and restore community trust in law enforcement and for the recruitment of more minority officers, as well as officers who live in the community.
In 2017, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, an organization for many of the nation’s urban prosecutors, promoted justice reform ideas, many focused on improving transparency and accountability. Much of that proposed template built on or followed the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. But unfortunately those reforms largely were not enacted.
“The time for more study has passed. We already have a path forward. We only need to move forward. We must begin to methodically enact and build on these reforms,” Jean Peters Baker stated.
We have also not “declined to press charges” in all of the officer-involved shootings listed by KC Freedom Project. Some of those cases remain under active investigation.
The office has reviewed other cases prosecuted by Amy McGowan, who left this office more than a decade ago. We have cooperated with all inquiries from other agencies regarding her cases.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communication
Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office
Jean Peters Baker, Prosecutor
Work : (816) 881-3812
Mobile: (816) 674-3954