Dozens of state's prosecutors address policy issues and pending laws

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys discussed legislation pending in the General Assembly addressing public safety and the criminal justice system on Tuesday at the Capitol.

Many of the state's elected prosecutors attended the press conference to discuss their agenda and House and Senate bills.

The prosecutors said their main priorities are strengthening tools to ensure accountability for official misconduct and protecting the safety of witnesses, victims and children.

"We instill trust when witnesses and victims feel safe, we instill trust when we know that that there’s tools to hold, officials, public officials accountable, and then finally were just trying to provide some accurate information," said Amy Fite, MAPA president and Christian County prosecuting attorney.

Emily van Schenkhof, deputy director of statewide child advocacy agency Missouri KidsFirst, said it is important for laws to reflect the priority of the people.

“It is vitally important that we pass these bills, that we work together and that we hold people accountable for the crimes they commit against children and that we get these folks off the street because they put all of our children at risk.”

Prosecutors said they wanted to debunk the myth that prisons are full of first-time offenders and said they are working to develop alternatives to incarceration.

Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman said all of the issues discussed impact the entire state.

“Every year, there’s only so many bills that you can get through the legislature and we try to limit it to things that are important and timely and need to be fixed right away,” Hillman said.

MAPA has legislative and policy priorities in seven areas this year.