Congratulations to the 2022 Criminal Justice Advocate of the Year!

Empower Missouri is renewing the tradition of recognizing the hard work of outstanding anti-poverty advocates across the state at our annual Advocacy Awards Brunch, to be held on Saturday, June 11th, at 11AM at the Piper Palm House in St. Louis. (The 2023 brunch will be held in Kansas City.) We have an exciting group of awardees to be honored. Today we’re highlighting the Criminal Justice Advocate of the Year, Missouri Appleseed.

About Missouri Appleseed

Missouri Appleseed is an independent nonprofit organization that was founded in 2017. It is one of 17 independent centers that make up the Appleseed Network, a group of legal policy and advocacy nonprofits located throughout the United States and in Mexico. 

In 2019, Missouri Appleseed successfully advocated in coalition with law students, psychiatrists, and other nonprofits to change Missouri’s policy of terminating an individual’s Medicaid when that individual is incarcerated. As a matter of law, Missouri now suspends rather than terminating an individual’s Medicaid upon incarceration, so that individual’s health insurance can be immediately reactivated upon their release.

In 2021, two of Missouri Appleseed’s long-standing advocacy goals also became law due to its education and advocacy efforts: Missouri mandated that women in all its prisons and jails be provided with free quality pads and tampons, and Missouri required judges to consider diversion rather than incarceration for primary caretakers of dependent children when those caretakers were convicted of a nonviolent crime.

Currently, Missouri Appleseed is researching and advocating for the establishment of a prison nursery in one of Missouri’s state prisons for women, so that incarcerated women who give birth in Department of Corrections custody can bond with their infant children. Missouri Appleseed also regularly hosts free Continuing Legal Education programs for the Missouri Bar.  Topics of trainings have included the Educational Stability for Foster Youth and Parent-Child Visitation Rights When a Parent is Incarcerated.

From the Nominator:

Missouri Appleseed works on issues at the intersection of criminal justice reform and public health. They are a strong, respected and influential force in the capitol building. They have led successful education and advocacy campaigns around COVID-19 in prisons, access to feminine hygiene products in prisons as well as community based sentences for primary caregivers. Liza Weiss, their executive director, has been with the organization from its inception.

Over the coming days we will be announcing more 2022 Advocacy Award recipients. They will be honored at our Advocacy Awards Brunch, to be held on Saturday, June 11th, at 11AM at the Piper Palm House in St. Louis. If you’d like to join us to celebrate the amazing work of these advocates, you can learn more and purchase your tickets here.

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