Wesley BellCounty Prosecutor, St. Louis County, MO
The Real Justice PAC proudly endorses Wesley Bell for re-election as the County Prosecutor of St. Louis County. Four years after protests rocked Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown, local activists and organizers were able harness a groundswell of support around Prosecuting Attorney candidate Wesley Bell, a Ferguson city councilman. After a campaign that criticized the use of cash bail, vowed to increase diversion programs, and promised to transform the manner in which the office handled investigations into police violence, Bell, the county’s first Black elected prosecutor, defeated a 7-time incumbent who had presided over the county’s criminal legal system with a tough-on-crime, pro-police, approach for over two decades. Since taking office, Bell has radically changed criminal prosecution in St. Louis county:
- Within a month of taking office, Bell issued directives requiring his attorneys to, among other things, decline prosecution of less than 100 grams of marijuana and failure to pay child support; stop overcharging defendants to pressure them into pleas; and disclose the entirety of their files to defense counsel;
- Bell’s office’s bail policy favored issuing summonses, rather than warrants, for all misdemeanors and low-level felonies, stopped seeking cash bail for misdemeanor offenses, and declined to incarcerate those who weren’t a flight risk if they failed to appear in court on a single occasion;
- Since Bell took office, the St. Louis County jail population has decreased by 35%, from an average daily population of 1295 to one of 840 individuals;
- He has established treatment and diversion programs, in partnership with local health organizations, to address rather than criminalize addiction and mental illness;
- He has kept his commitment never to seek the death penalty, and has urged President Biden to commute the sentences of all the individuals on federal death row.