This is our fourth issue and we are well along planning the next three issues of the journal.
Two of the articles in this issue address criminal court issues, but in different ways, highlighting interesting methodologies used to study Missouri courts. One article discusses an innovative court process known as a “treatment court” as a method used to help drug offenders. The other article examines whether race has been the basis for sentencing disparities in Missouri courts and concludes that external factors (such as criminal history, age, and severity of a crime) have mattered more. Both articles together provide insightful and instructive ways to examine and understand aspects of the Missouri court system.
The third article studies the impact of the United States Supreme Court case, Obergefell v Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriages across the country in 2015. It focuses on Missouri counties in particular, noting that some were slower than others in implementing the high court’s ruling. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, in fact, married four same-sex couples in June 2014, a year before the court handed down its decision.
The fourth article focuses on the departure of the St. Louis Rams. As this essay concludes, “[The] Rams saga serves as a cautionary tale to governments throughout the United States.”
We hope these articles continue our aim of providing readable yet scholarly articles that address issues of importance to Missouri in ways that avoid, if not transcend, the often ideologically-tainted approaches toward policy discussion that dominate cable TV news, where liberal versus conservative is supposed to mean something and, oftentimes, only serves to cloud discussions of important issues.
With this issue we added an additional feature: charts that show some data on issues of importance to Missouri (SNAP, Social Security, and Unemployment). Future issues will also include other policy relevant information presented in similar formats. These three charts were completed by a Lindenwood University student, Aaron Azkoul, who did them through our GIS program.
Joseph A. Cernik, Editor
Cover: Barb Hutchinson - The photo is of two of the 85 horses at the Renaissance Rescue Ranch near Farmington, Missouri. Get up close and personal with a thoroughbred race horse. Tours are available. In addition, horses are available for adoption. Visit their website for more information - renaissancerescue.com.
Copy Editor: Shelley Walton
Correctional Reform in Red States: Missouri's Role
Joseph M. Zlatic, PhD
Jeannie Thies, PhD
Approximately ten years ago, a conservative-led movement to engage in various forms of correctional and sentencing reform emerged. This movement extends to broader acceptance within the criminal justice field to implement less traditional forms of sentencing, including alternative sentences that incorporate rehabilitative components. A decade later, this policy debate has gained significant traction throughout many conservative states that have traditionally relied upon mass incarceration as the chief means of crime control. Recent scholarly evidence suggests that the reform efforts within these conservative states have met with success in reducing prison populations and the development of rehabilitative strategies increasingly in line with public opinion polls. Moreover, these reforms have brought greater focus to evidence-based practices and increasing attention to empirically-derived evidence of “what works” in reducing recidivism. This paper presents the results of an evaluation of a drug court in a Missouri judicial circuit as an example of how such efforts have spread throughout Missouri. We offer recommendations for policymakers seeking to support this largely bipartisan issue and take advantage of what may be a shrinking window of opportunity.
Implementing Marriage: The Issuance of Marriage Licenses in Missouri after Obergefell
Jessica Loyet Gracey, PhD
The Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. Some Missouri counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately, while others did not until two weeks following the decision. The study examines attempts to explain the differences in the amount of time that counties in Missouri took to implement the Obergefell ruling. Factors such as partisanship, education, religion, and the service industry in each county are examined. The findings indicate that only educational levels in each county are a statistically significant predictor of when a county began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Missouri Sentencing and Race: A Closer Look from 2007-2015
Grant Shostak, JD
Ryan V. Guffey, PhD
Contrary to the perception, it is judges, not juries, that typically determine the sentence for a convicted criminal defendant. While all citizens are to be treated equal under the law, recent cries to overhaul our criminal justice system came to a head following the wake of Officer Darren Wilson’s (Caucasian) shooting and killing of Michael Brown (African-American) in Ferguson, Missouri. This paper attempts to examine sentencing practices of Missouri courts from 2007-2015, covering a time period both before and after Brown’s death in 2014.
The St. Louis Rams: The Greatest Public Financing Show on Earth
Eric Click, PhD
This case study research explores how and why the National Football League (NFL) Rams both arrived in St. Louis (in 1995) and departed St. Louis (in 2016). In order to address these questions, through archival and secondary data, the research examines the unique interrelated history of St. Louis and the NFL, including both economics and public financing. As a result, the research is presented in five sections: introduction, NFL economics, St. Louis and the NFL, St. Louis and no NFL, and final remarks. Note: to more fully understand this article, please first read “One Development Project, Two Economic Tales: The St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village” in the Missouri Policy Journal 2 (Fall/Winter).