MSPD Anti-Racism Statement

MSPD Anti-Racism Statement

The Missouri State Public Defender System confronts and condemns racism in the criminal legal system and within our own state agency.

We stand together to serve poor people with zealous advocacy and sensitivity by demonstrating respect for and inclusiveness of the racial, ethnic and cultural differences of our clients. We acknowledge that poverty and racism are inextricably linked and that we cannot serve our poor clients without talking about systemic racism.

We stand together against racial injustice at every phase of the criminal legal system; from arrest through sentencing and post-conviction relief, and wherever else it arises. As advocates for our clients, we cannot remain silent and will speak wherever injustice is for the benefit of our clients and our communities.

We stand together to support our colleagues of color and our allies in the fight for racial equality and for justice for all and we will use our power to speak for our colleagues and allies against racism.

We stand together to recognize our own biases and commit to dismantle them by doing our own anti-racism work, as well as learning and listening to our BIPOC clients and colleagues. We understand that anti-racism and anti-bias work is a life-long endeavor to which we hold ourselves accountable.

We stand together to acknowledge the history of racism in Missouri and the effect that white supremacy has on our communities today – the chattel slavery of Black Americans in Missouri; the failures of freedom suits brought by Black Americans, including the Dred Scott case, which resulted in the United States Supreme Court writing in 1857 that Black Americans could never be citizens; the lynchings of Black Americans within our own communities; the redlining of neighborhoods to keep Black Americans out; the school segregation that limited Black Americans educational opportunities; and all the other policies still negatively impacting Black Americans and our communities today.

We believe that Public Defense can and does contribute meaningfully to the dismantling of structures of inequality, and we are committed to expanding our efforts to embed anti-racism in all of our activities and engagements within the legal system, MPSD, and beyond.