Mom bikes 200 miles across Missouri for youth justice reform

1 year 11 months 2 weeks ago Friday, October 28 2016 Oct 28, 2016 Friday, October 28, 2016 10:53:22 PM CDT October 28, 2016 in News
By: Max Diekneite, KOMU 8 reporter; Eloise Speleers, KOMU 8 digital reporter
loading

MOKANE - According to Families and Friends Organizing for Reform of Juvenile Justice, (FORJ), “Children under 18 years old put in an adult prison or jail are usually physically or sexually assaulted within the first 48 hours of arrival." In order to raise awareness for juvenile justice reform in Missouri, Tracy McClard, the founder of FORJ-MO, decided to bike 200 miles across Missouri.

"We have got to get kids out of the criminal justice system because it doesn't work," McClard said. 

Tracy has a personal connection to the juvenile system: In 2008, Tracy McClard lost her son, Jonathan, when he hung himself in a Missouri prison. According to McClard, he had been mentally and physically harassed for months, and was placed in solitary confinement. His death came just three days after his seventeenth birthday.

He had been tried as an adult, and received a 30 year sentence for first-degree assault with a deadly weapon. Tracy said she hated watching the life being taken out of her son and doesn't want to see other families go through the same pain.

"The majority of these kids are gonna come back home, and then they will never be productive members of society because they have nothing in prison."

Tracy decided she'd bike across Missouri, from Sedalia to St. Charles, in order to raise awareness.

"I'm trying to do something so people understand what kids in adult criminal justice are going through. I needed to organize something to appeal to people," McClard said.

Tracy isn't the only person pushing for reform: Missouri State Senator Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) said it's time Missouri catches up with the rest of the nation. 

"We’re in the bottom quartile of the nation when it comes to juvenile rehabilitation; we aren’t even average, and so we need to make a lot of progress,” Wallingford said. 

Wallingford laid out three main reasons he believes Missourians should favor criminal justice reform for Missouri's youth: 

1. It saves money - "Keeping juveniles out of prison saves us tax dollars," he said. 

2. It saves Missouri's youth - "Actually rehabilitating them through the juvenile system helps them be productive members of society," he said. 

3. Makes Missouri safer - "It keeps people from re-offending," he said. 

According to FORJ-MO, there is an average of 20 children aged between 12 and 16 years old in Missouri adult jail systems and several thousands of 17-year-olds in adult prisons nationwide. McClard said Jonathan took his own life out of fear of what would happen to him once he was taken out of solitary confinement. 

"I knew that was why he killed himself; fighting is one thing, but sexual assault from another guy, for him... he just couldn't deal with," McClard said. 

Missouri is one of seven states that hasn't raised the age to be considered as an adult to 18 in the eyes of the law. Last spring, an executive house committee passed a bill to make it illegal to imprison children under the age of 17 in an adult prison. Due to long debates and filibuster of other legislation, the bill didn't make it through. 

Wallingford and McClard plan to introduce a new version of the bill on December 1, which includes a provision to make it illegal to put any child under the age of 16 in an adult jail. Currently, any child 12 or older can be placed in an adult jail. Wallingford said he believes the juvenile system is a more appropriate place to put young offenders. 

"All studies say that juvenile systems do it right," Wallingford said. "People say, 'let's show them, let's get tough on crime.' But it doesn't work, and it exacerbates the situation."

The month of October is national youth justice awareness month. Wallingford said he believes McClard's efforts provide a great platform to finally get this legislation passed. 

“It will go a long way to educate people on how to reform our criminal justice system as it relates to juveniles,” Wallingford said.

McClard said she hopes this year, change will finally come to Missouri.  

"We have to get kids out of the adult criminal justice system," she said. "They are brutalized or they die. This doesn't help them to become productive citizens when they will get out."

 

 

More News

Grid
List
RANDOLPH COUNTY - MoDOT announced they will close Randolph County Route CC from Route FF to to Route K on... More >>
36 minutes ago Friday, October 19 2018 Oct 19, 2018 Friday, October 19, 2018 8:30:00 AM CDT October 19, 2018 in News
FLORISSANT (AP) — Authorities have arrested a suburban St. Louis student after finding a loaded gun and a razor inside... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, October 19 2018 Oct 19, 2018 Friday, October 19, 2018 7:46:15 AM CDT October 19, 2018 in News
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man has been sentenced to life in prison in the 1984 beating death... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, October 19 2018 Oct 19, 2018 Friday, October 19, 2018 7:10:00 AM CDT October 19, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City doctor has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for his... More >>
2 hours ago Friday, October 19 2018 Oct 19, 2018 Friday, October 19, 2018 6:51:00 AM CDT October 19, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS - Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican opponent Josh Hawley were sometimes heated and often derisive as they... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 9:02:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Chamber of Commerce will debut its plans to install a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Friday at... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 8:16:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Issues like Proposition D, Vision Zero and more were discussed at Thursday night's Transportation Committee Meeting in Columbia.... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 7:31:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
MEXICO - October is domestic violence awareness month and businesses across Mexico are showing their support for survivors by decorating... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 6:02:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS - Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Republican opponent, Josh Hawley, are hoping for a debate win tonight... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 5:43:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Latest on the trial of two maintenance workers charged with misleading investigators after a 10-year-old... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 5:09:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Hundreds of people gathered for the grand opening of CenterPointe Hospital on International Drive Thursday. Governor Mike... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 3:42:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The influence of lower prices and convenience are affecting the way millennials approach primary care, according to... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 3:38:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU honored Dr. George Smith, the first Nobel Prize winner in university history, with a reserved space to... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 3:30:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
MOBERLY - Police arrested a man Wednesday after a search warrant led to finding five gallon-sized bags of marijuana. ... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 3:08:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - State House of Representative candidates talked public transportation and education, amongst other things, at a disability issues forum... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 2:00:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Officers have arrested one man after a home invasion Wednesday night, but are still looking for a second... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 1:58:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Jurors on Thursday began deliberating the case of two Kansas water park maintenance workers accused... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 12:39:00 PM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was in a wheelchair has been found dead in a... More >>
22 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 10:52:34 AM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 53°
10am 50°
11am 51°
12pm 51°
1pm 53°