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Missouri Justice Coalition will bring its Statewide Townhall Tour to Springfield Saturday

A prison cell
A prison cell

The nonprofit advocates for comprehensive prison reform in the state.

The Missouri Justice Coalition will kick off its Statewide Townhall Tour in Springfield Saturday, November 4.

The nonprofit advocacy organization is hoping to mobilize communities in support of comprehensive prison reform.

Its founder and director ML Smith said those who are incarcerated don’t have a voice when it comes to advocating for change, and they need people outside the system to advocate for them. She believes change is needed – especially when it comes to preparing those behind bars for life outside of them.

"Over 90% of people have an out date," she said. "These people are coming back to our communities. And what do we, you know, what are we getting from prison? We're getting broken people who have serious mental health issues, serious health conditions that were never addressed where they were incarcerated."

The Missouri Department of Corrections currently offers education programs that follow the guidelines set by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. State statute requires offenders without a high school diploma or equivalent to participate in Adult Basic Education classes. It also offers vocational education.

Smith said she hopes the Townhall Tour will result in more people working toward additional accountability at the Department of Corrections.

The stop in Springfield Saturday will include a screening of the documentary, "The First Step," a panel discussion and a Q&A by organizers who are directly impacted by the prison system. There will also be information and resources for town hall attendees.

If you’d like to attend, register here.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.