JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Representative Steven Roberts said the recent North Newstead Association Crime Prevention Summit highlighted the need for substantive criminal justice reform to address the rampant crime problem in St. Louis. Roberts that noted the city has already seen more than 75 homicides this year and said the state needs to take a multi-faceted approach to help address the growing problem.
“When I found out about the North Newstead Association Crime Prevention Summit, I knew I wanted to be a part of even though I had already scheduled a town hall meeting about criminal justice reform for the 77th District. As a prosecutor for St. Louis City I witnessed the impact of crime on the victims, the families, and our neighborhoods. I couldn’t continue to watch. I was motivated to action. That is why I ran for state representative: I wanted to be a part of the solution,” said Roberts, D-St. Louis.
He added, “We have to do something to make a difference. There is no single solution for crime, and instead, requires a multi-step approach. Education is one of the first steps. That is why I sponsored legislation to restart the youth challenge program and co-sponsored the adult high schools bill.”
Roberts shared his desire to restart the Youth Challenge Academy to offer a 17 ½ month military-based training program consisting of a 22-week Residential Phase and a one-year Post-Residential Phase. The core components of the program would include Academic Excellence, Physical Fitness, Leadership/Followership, Responsible Citizenship, Job Skills, Service to the Community, Health and Hygiene, and Life-Coping Skills. Eligible participants would be high school dropouts between 16 and 18 years of age.
Participants could not exceed 18 years of age on the first day of the Residential Phase of the program. Participants would also need to be unemployed or underemployed, drug-free, not on parole or probation for other than juvenile status offenses, not awaiting sentencing, and not under indictment, charged, or convicted of a crime that is considered a felony when charged as an adult.
Roberts said the program is not meant to be used by courts as an alternative to sentencing.
“As a prosecutor a defendant explained to me he felt his choices were slim to none. He shared with me how he was 26 years old and didn’t know how to read,” said Roberts. “He was trying to figure out how to provide for his ten-year-old son. This story inspired me to co-sponsor the adult high school legislation, which is waiting to be signed into law by the governor.”
Roberts was not the only member of the Missouri House of Representative there to participate in the conversation about crime prevention. Senator Jamilah Nasheed was in attendance, as were House members from neighboring St. Louis city districts – Representative Michael Butler, Representative Bruce Franks, and Representative Joshua Peters.
For more information, contact the office of Rep. Roberts at 573-751-1400.
What a great turnout of stakeholders looking for ways to prevent crime and promote public safety in the Penrose, O’Fallon, and Fairground neighborhoods, and the rest of St. Louis City! Engaged citizens, elected officials, police officers, and service providers showed up early on a Saturday morning and stayed into the early afternoon for this great coming together. Thanks to everyone that came to listen and to participate–let’s continue the momentum and keep improving the city and neighborhoods we call home. Among others, we were pleased to be joined by St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, 21st Ward Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, 3rd Ward Alderman Brandon Bosley, State Rep. Steven Roberts, State Rep. Michael Butler, State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., State Rep. Joshua Peters, Executive Director of the Community Development Administration (CDA) Alana Green, Neighborhood Development Executive of the Neighborhood Stabilization Team (NST) Dotti McDowell, acting St. Louis Police…
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