Wesley Bell advocates that every person should have equal rights and opportunities within the criminal justice system. St. Louis County deserves to be a national leader in criminal justice reform, using a modern approach, Wesley Bell promotes strategies that have been proven to:
combat serious crime;
rehabilitate non-violent offenders;
reduce the likelihood of future crime;
seriously protect and address the needs of victims;
establish trust in the Prosecutor’s office;
focus juvenile prosecution on rehabilitation - not punishment;
treat everyone humanely and fair;
mend relationships between the community and police; and
make St. Louis County a safer place to live, work, and raise a family.
A Leader in Criminal Justice Reform
Wesley Bell is the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County, Missouri. He was sworn in to office at 12:01am on January 1st, 2019 and is the first African American to serve in this position. Elected in a 2018 landslide, Wesley ran a vigorous grassroots campaign to unseat a 28 year incumbent by a 14 point margin. Wesley has served with distinction across the spectrum of the legal profession as a public defender, defense attorney, judge, professor and prosecutor.
Wesley is an advocate for ending mass incarceration, eliminating ‘debtors’ prison’ practices, and rebuilding trust between communities and the prosecutor’s office. As prosecutor, Wesley began implementing reforms on day one; directing more resources to fight violent crime and ensuring victims receive compassion and justice at every step. These shifts are based in data driven policy that further increases public safety by making sure violent crimes are vigorously prosecuted and those needing treatment for addiction or mental health have access to appropriate care.
Wesley was raised in North St. Louis County, the son of a Police Officer father and a County civil servant mother. His childhood instilled a deep appreciation for law enforcement and public service.
After attending Hazelwood East public schools, Wesley earned degrees from Lindenwood University and the University of Missouri-Columbia law school with the help of student loans and scholarships.
While at Mizzou Law, Wesley chose to focus his studies on the representation of the poor and disenfranchised. After graduating, he turned down several job offers to come back to St Louis to work as a Public Defender.
A Leader in the Courtroom
As a Special Public Defender, Wesley represented hundreds of disenfranchised clients throughout the St. Louis region. It was immediately apparent to him that St. Louis County’s criminal justice system was sorely broken and wasn’t working for anyone from any background, but especially the marginalized.
After his time as a Public Defender, Wesley started his own criminal defense practice where he maintained a robust pro bono (free of charge) case load, continuing to dedicate himself to public service. From his time as a Public Defender, Wesley determined that one of the shortcomings of our criminal justice system is that most people simply don’t understand how it works. In order to address this problem, Wesley became a criminal justice professor at St. Louis Community College (Florissant Valley) where he currently is head of the department.
A Leader in the Streets
In the wake of the Ferguson Uprising, Wesley answered the call for new leadership in the City of Ferguson where he was elected City Councilman in 2015. During his time on the Council he worked with Obama’s DOJ to implement the consent decree to reform the City’s criminal justice system through both police and court reform. This included more thorough training for police, the purchase and use of body cams, a pay raise for police, reforming police use-of-force policy, and an overhaul of the municipal court system.
Wesley also became prosecutor and Judge in a handful of St. Louis County municipalities where he has been a vocal leader in criminal justice and court reform, including being the first prosecutor to advocate for the recall of thousands of non-violent municipal warrants. He also worked to establish the North County Police Cooperative, a consolidation of several North County Police Departments into one department that is more efficient and accountable and simultaneously makes community policing one of its highest priorities.