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Missouri Supreme Court seeks to improve juvenile justice system

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The Missouri Supreme Court is in the process of examining the status of the state’s juvenile justice system. Part of that process included a public forum at the Greater St. Mark Family Church in north St. Louis County.

“This is a listening session where we want to hear the stories of people regarding their experiences in the juvenile justice system,” said Hon. Sandra Hemphill, St. Louis County Circuit Judge.

She is also co-chair of a working group representing the Missouri Supreme Court’s Juvenile Subcommittee for the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness.

The working group invited citizens to share their experiences in hopes of finding ways to improve the system.

“Part of our task is to take this information along with other information that we will be gathering and make recommendations to the Missouri Supreme Court to improve our juvenile justice system,” said Hemphill.

Some community activists feel the system is too quick to push accused offenders away from their families.  Amanda Davis attended the meeting.  She’s a member of Metropolitan Congregations United and said some juveniles have been held in custody for months until authorities determine no crime was committed.

“All that time the child is missing a lot of the family and education,” said Davis.

The commission does plan on having more opportunities for the pubic to share experiences.

“We plan to have other sessions here in St. Louis.  We are in the planning stages for those,” said Hemphill.  “We also plan to have one in Cape Girardeau, Kansas City and Springfield.”

The dates for future sessions have not yet been set.