Since taking over as Prosecutor, Jean’s top priority has been protecting the citizens of Jackson County from violent crime. No one’s tougher when that is what’s called for. But Jean knows that there are other important ways the Prosecutor’s office can help make our communities both safer and stronger. Here are some of the initiatives Jean has been working on in the office since she took over last May:
Child Abuse and Neglect—Jean has driven a renewed focus on intervening earlier in child abuse and neglect situations to prevent more serious cases down the road. Children are the most vulnerable of victims and are completely reliant on others for their protection. Yet, historically, few cases of child abuse and neglect were referred to the State level for prosecution in Jackson County. Jean’s been seeking to change that system by working with law enforcement for state level prosecution of these crimes.
Neighborhood Prosecution Teams—Jean is building partnerships in the community and focusing our resources on “hot spots” to provide maximum protection for Jackson County citizens. Jean has sought to reduce gun violence through outreach in surrounding school districts and by forming partnerships with community groups, and law enforcement to target gangs and concentrate resources where they’re needed most to remove violent offenders from the community in order to reduce crime.
Protecting and Promoting the Rights of Victims in the Criminal Justice Process—Jean has sought to shift the focus of the criminal justice system back to the victims of crimes by engaging victims early in the process and seeking restitution for victims
Professional and Well-Trained Prosecutors—Jean has brought a heightened focus on ensuring adherence to the highest standards of professional conduct by everyone in the office--including appropriate training and an examination of discovery procedures within the prosecutor’s office. Jean’s determined to have the best trained legal staff in the country and that means keeping them abreast of evolving legal issues and trends in criminal justice.
Education Based Diversion—Jean has led a new "public/private" initiative to move young offenders with a high chance of turning their lives around toward education and away from crime. She’s especially excited about this initiative that gives deserving youth the opportunity to change their behavior though a structured education-based diversion program. These young offenders who have been charged with committing non-violent crimes and have no prior convictions will be eligible to be screened for an education based diversion. This diversion will require completion of High School and successfully completing one semester of continuing education before their felony charges are dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor. Providing certain offenders the opportunity to trade a felony conviction which will plague their employment opportunities for the rest of their life with an education will have a long-term positive impact, not just on the offender, but on the community as a whole.
Re-Entry Program – Jean has developed a new program for offenders who are settling back in our community after their release from prison. This program seeking to address Missouri’s high recidivism rates through a partnership between Prosecutors, Missouri Probation and Parole and the Court offering ex-offenders a path to living a crime-free life. Offenders will be strictly monitored but offered resources for job placement and aid re-integrating back into a free society.
Veterans Court—Jean is working to model this initiative after our Drug Courts. This is a program to get veterans who are having adjustment issues from PTSD and drug and alcohol dependency into treatment during the early stages of their contact with law enforcement.