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The Gun Conundrum

We requested from Jackson County Prosecutor's Office the sentencing data for all homicide cases from 2017 to 2020.  

We excluded suspended and life sentences, and then calculated an average sentence for plea bargains.  (Plea bargains are where the prosecution and defense agree on a sentence, and the defendant pleads guilty to a charge.)

When compared to the data from Clay County - which is part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and lies to the north of Jackson County - we discovered that Jackson County had an average sentence of around six years less at 15.7 years.  Clay County's average sentence was 21.6 years.

The statement below was provided by the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office in response.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

We appreciate your interest in our city’s No. 1 problem. If sentences are bigger in Clay County than in Kansas City, I’d want to see this data. I‘m not aware Clay County has made it public, as we have. Also, research clearly shows that the thing that persuades persons not to offend is the certainty of being caught, not the length of sentence.

But let’s explore your contention. To compare sentences in Clay County to Kansas City is a logical fallacy, in common terms: it’s apples to oranges. You didn’t request eastern Jackson County data. Those sentences would probably be similar to Clay County, which makes sense. Most of Clay County and eastern Jackson County have not seen the impacts of systemic racism on their community. This creates mostly-minority neighborhoods with desperately poor people with many difficult issues to overcome.

Comparing us statewide, shows we’re on mark. In 2019 (the last full year not impacted by the pandemic) our average sentence for Murder convictions was 23.2 years. The statewide Murder 2 average was 21.7 years. That data is on our website.

We will not attack our victims, witnesses, judges, jurors, law enforcement and our prosecutors who live in this community and who fight for justice under the most difficult circumstances. It takes great skill and perseverance to mete out justice anywhere, but in communities with historic and pervasive violence, it simply takes more.


Michael Mansur 
Director of Communication 
Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office 
Jean Peters Baker, Prosecutor 
(816) 881-3812 
(816) 674-3954