Criminal Justice Reform

Empower Missouri has a long history of fighting for criminal justice reform. 

Missouri’s criminal legal system is heavily broken. It continues to rely on outdated judicial precedents and punishes people who are poor. It is largely driven by racial disparities, which directly obstruct and deconstruct our minority communities.

People living in poverty and people of color are more likely to be arrested, convicted, and incarcerated than their peers in Missouri. And, following incarceration, it is nearly impossible to break out of a cycle of poverty & incarceration because of state-enforced punitive measures imposed on ex-offenders. We must abandon practices that have failed our state for decades and find new ways to address crime, poverty, and the drug epidemic in our state.

Key Stats

  • Missouri has the 7th highest incarceration rate in the country & the fastest growing female prison population in the nation.
  • Missouri spends more than $725 million each year on corrections costs.  
  • In 2020, Black drivers were 71% more likely to be pulled over than white drivers, and 25% more likely to be arrested in Missouri.

The Clean Slate Campaign to pass automated expungement in Missouri is a major priority of our criminal justice work in 2023-2024. You can learn more about that initiative on our campaign microsite, at

Bill Tracker

Find the criminal justice bills we’re keeping an eye on.

Visit the Bill Tracker


Find more resources to aid your criminal justice reform advocacy.

Learn More

Coalition Membership

Join a dedicated group of advocates in the Community Justice Coalition.

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Join the Community Justice Coalition

The Community Justice Coalition (CJC), is a multi-sector team of dedicated advocates who envision a future without mass incarceration. Through deep policy research, field work and legislative advocacy, we battle the harms of mass incarceration in our communities. We work across the five stages of the criminal legal system to elevate specific policy reforms that can put us on the road to ending mass incarceration and the endless cycle of formerly incarcerated people living in poverty. Our current approach isn’t working. Missouri’s mass incarceration rates devastate families and communities, depress local economies, and do not improve public safety. Coalition members share stories and data from their own work and experiences with the criminal justice system to build a collective understanding of current obstacles facing criminal justice reform. The coalition educates the community about the ways our current system is failing us while collaboratively developing & advocating for significant policy reforms with the state legislature.  Click HERE to view our events page to learn when the next Community Justice Coalition meeting will be held. It is staffed by our Criminal Justice Policy Manager, Gwen Smith-Moore.