Gardner touts decreased incarceration rate at town hall meeting

Present at the town hall meeting on St. Louis University's campus were Police Chief John Hayden, Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, St. Louis NAACP Chapter President Adolphus Pruitt, Gardner's staff, the Vera Institute, local religious leaders and several organizations that have thrown their support behind Gardner.

"Some people feel as though this is just black folks trying to protect a black circuit attorney," Pruitt said in introduction. "They forget what we're fighting for ... the scales of justice are now so much more balanced than they've ever been before in our lifetimes. We've never been able to feel it, and we're not going to let anyone take it away from us."

Gardner's declarations of success come at a time her office has been marked by controversy. Recently, she defended her decision to hire outside legal counsel during the grand jury investigation of former FBI agent William Don Tisaby. The indictment of Tisaby contained criticism of Gardner's actions during the investigation of formerย  Gov. Eric Greitens.

Gardner has also faced enormous pushback for her creation of an "exclusion" list of police officers she will not accept cases from, grant warrants or allow to serve as witnesses.

In her effort to decrease nonviolent criminal convictions, Gardner declared last year that she would not prosecute possession of marijuana cases if the amount was less than 100 grams, a decision that garnered criticism from Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association.

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