Panel comes to Columbia College to talk about criminal justice reform

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COLUMBIA -  The Show-Me Institute will host a panel on criminal justice reform Tuesday evening at Columbia College.

The event will start at 5:30 p.m. with a presentation in Bixby Lecture Hall. A reception will follow at 7 p.m. 

Panelists will talk about the amount of money invested into the criminal justice system and if the value of the justice system is worth that amount.

They will also discuss public policies they believe should be changed and much more on criminal justice.

"Our criminal justice system is in the headlines a lot, between the public protests in St. Louis after the Stockley verdit or taking a knee in the NFL related to inequities in the criminal justice system," defense attorney Jennifer Bukowsky said. "This panel presents an opportunity for us to discuss what to do about it." 

Patrick Tuohey, director of municipal policy for the Show-Me Institute and event moderator, said this discussion is to “offer a public forum for the public to learn about criminal justice reform and engage with policy experts on the issue.”

He said it is also a chance for the public to learn about the work of the Show-Me Institute.

Panelists include Bukowsky, who is a defense attorney in Columbia, State Treasurer Eric Schmitt, University of Missouri economics professor Dr. Aaron Hedlund, former prosecutor and current advisor to the Columbia Police Department Nicole Volker and Columbia College professor Barry Langford. 

Bukowsky said, "I'm really looking forward to discussing solutions to our criminal justice system problems with four other experts in the area."

Bukowsky will talk specifically about the "incarceration epidemic" and who is paying the price and successful reforms from other states that Missouri could consider adopting. 

Tuohey said the institute reached out to people with different roles in the criminal justice system to form the panel. 

Panelists will also answer questions from the public during the event’s question and answer session.

There is no cost to attend the event.

This is Show-Me Institute’s first criminal justice reform event. However, the institute holds events in the Columbia area regularly and the events are typically “Policy Forums,” according to Tuohey. 

Columbia College was chosen as the event venue because, “institutions like Columbia College provide a great forum for discussions of this kind,” Tuohey said.