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10 members appointed to new Kansas City, Missouri, commission on incarceration alternatives

Johnny Waller
Posted at 4:12 PM, Jun 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-23 17:12:22-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Friday he has appointed 10 members to the newly created Alternatives to Incarceration Commission.

The City Council authorized the creation of the commission in a vote earlier this month.

The Commission is now tasked with preparing a report for the City Council within 30 days of the passage of the resolution on June 8.

Council members have tasked the commission to evaluate how many jail beds might be needed to be built in coordination with Jackson County, Missouri, as well as identifying ways to connect non-violent offenders with resources and help outside of incarceration.

In announcing the commission, Lucas said the review is part of the city’s overall work to make the community “safe for everyone,” and a recognition that “jail time is not always the best, most effective response for every person who commits non-violent crimes.”

“Alternatives to jail, including rehabilitative services for substance abuse or mental health issues, can help confront the root causes of crime and prevent more crimes,” Lucas said, adding that doing so can also reduce the city’s recidivism rate. “I am proud to appoint the Alternatives of Incarceration Commission, which will help us find ways to give opportunities to help everyone thrive and live healthier and more successful lives.”

Earlier this month, KSHB 41 reporter Alyssa Jackson spoke with one member of the newly formed commission, Johnny Waller.

Waller, who serves as the Clear My Record Expungement Project Manager at the University of Missouri - Kansas City’s School of Law, spoke of his experience of incarceration. He spent much of his youth in and out of jail.

"By the time I was 16, I joined a gang ... got shot in my head," he said. "I was involved in a shooting at a mall, got incarcerated for that. I never went to high school."

When he got out and tried to find work, he couldn’t get a job.

“It was so bad I asked to go back to prison,” he said.

As a member of the commission, Waller said he plans to advocate for more investment in education, mental health and housing.

The resolution to create the commission was introduced by Councilmembers Katheryn Shields and Ryan Parks-Shaw.

Commission members:

  • Megan Case (Co-Chair) - Kansas City Administrator of Corrections
  • Melesa Johnson (Co-Chair) - Mayor’s Office Director of Public Safety
  • Katheryn Shields - 4th District-at-large Councilwoman
  • Darrell Curls - 5th District-at-large Councilman
  • Hon. Courtney Wachal, Municipal Court Judge
  • Amaia Cook, Decarcerate KC
  • Annie Struby, Rose Brooks Center
  • Connor Swanton, Legal Aid of Western Missouri - Municipal Criminal Defense Division
  • Johnny Waller
  • Eric Wesson, The Next Page