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Citizen oversight provides accountability, but might be gone

One of the primary focuses of a person who is facing time in prison for crimes like forgery, fraud or anything else is determining how he or she is going to survive prisons. Let's face it -- prisons in this country are horrible for the most part. Instead of focusing on rehabilitation, they simply lock people away with others who have been convicted of crimes and those who are facing charges.

In Missouri, inmates in the prison system have had the ability to air their complaints to a civilian review board. Created in 2003, the Citizens Advisory Committee on Corrections meets once per month at a prison to read over random written complaints by inmates. The committee then gives suggestions to the director of adult institutions. Those suggestions don't have to be implemented.

The issue right now is that this committee might be disbanded. This would leave little oversight for the adult prison system in the state. Even though the committee was comprised of civilian citizens and didn't hold any formal power to force changes, it did produce a level of accountability.

In the midst of potentially losing this important panel, a lawsuit was filed that alleges that inmates who file grievances suffer retaliatory measures while they are still at the prison. Some have cited more frequent cell searches or a lack of privacy at meetings with their attorney.

While people who aren't in prison don't have to worry about all of this yet, the fact that this is happening is a reason to review your defense strategy and work hard on it. This might help you avoid prison or keep the time you have to spend there to a minimum.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Missouri's troubled prison system could lose citizen oversight panel," Kurt Erickson, Oct. 04, 2017

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