Meet The Founder
Because we believe that “people closest to the problem are closest to the solution but furthest away from power and resources,” as our mentor Glenn E. Martin says, the Missouri Justice Coalition was founded by a criminal legal system-impacted person to unify, amplify and uplift the voices, lived experiences and solutions of system-impacted persons.
ML Smith is a criminal punishment system-impacted advocate, abolitionist and activist who experienced incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made her intimately aware of the dire reality faced by our imprisoned populations, as well as the egregious actions and apathy of institution staff and administrators.
Being a Black, disabled, system-impacted woman who has experienced generational poverty is the foundation of her ideological framework, rooted in advocating for those suffering & struggling within a society created and built to oppress, marginalize and dehumanize targeted, vulnerable communities. ML is dedicated to using her experiences, knowledge, determination and voice in the struggle for equity, justice and recognition of humanity.
ML’s advocacy efforts extend to all facets of mass incarceration, including wrongful convictions, higher education for system-impacted people, humane and adequate healthcare, legislative reforms and decarceration. ML serves as the Director of the Missouri Justice Coalition and is the Co-Director of Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty. She also serves on Boards of Directors for several grassroots organizations and is a leader/advisor within several national organizations’ coalitions and cohorts.