KCUR
2017 file photo / Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Made This Sex Trafficking Survivor A Criminal — She Wants Another Chance

Hope Joy Zeferjohn was missing from the Kansas Capitol on the day her family was posing for pictures with the governor. It was May 22, 2015, and then-Gov. Sam Brownback was signing a proclamation for Family Reunification Month. Zeferjohn’s parents and siblings stood behind him, literal poster children for Brownback’s efforts to return children to their homes from foster care.

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Fernando Salazar / Special to the Capital-Journal

At first, they wanted to save her.

Then, after she fled the Kansas foster care system at age 16 and fell victim to the commercial sex trade, social workers told her she was going to prison forever.

"When I went into foster care and they wanted to take me away from my family, I ran," she said. "I ran away, and that's how I really started to get into all of this trouble. After I ran away, that's when they started treating me like, 'Oh, you're a suspect and you're not innocent.'

"They never asked me why. It was just, 'You're a bad girl.' "

Missouri Senate website

Former Missouri state lawmaker and educator Yvonne S. Wilson died Monday. The 90-year-old Democrat from Kansas City was remembered by many as a community advocate, especially for children. 

Many insects that feed on Missouri oak trees could be threatened by climate change, according to a study from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

Researchers from UMSL and several other universities looked at more than 250 insect species in Missouri, including leaf-tying caterpillars. Biologists reported in the journal Frontiers that the insects’ populations took major hits after mid-spring frosts and summer droughts, decreasing as much as 95% for some species.

Leanna Bales / Many States of Coffee

After seeing national "best of" coffee lists skipping the entire Midwest, coffee blogger Leanna Bales started a website Many States of Coffee.

Those lists, she said, "didn't really reflect what I was seeing in Kansas City, which was just this really beautiful coffee culture where I think there's a lot of movement between coffee shops and community."

Photo courtesy of the Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America / LaBudde Special Collections, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Recent news out of Johnson County, Kansas, has been about cities adopting non-discrimination ordinances with protections for members of the LGBTQ community.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Even though it’s the offseason, Kansas Rep. Rui Xu says being a legislator is a full-time job.

Over the course of a week, on top of his part-time gig as a freelance marketer, the Democrat spends 20 to 30 hours meeting with constituents in Johnson County, going to events, working on legislation or helping city council candidates run for office.

Xu isn’t paid for that work. Like every other member of the Kansas Legislature, he only draws a salary from the state during the legislative session, from about January to May. This year, his first in office, he got $19,300.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Recent news about jails and prisons in Kansas and Missouri has highlighted horrible conditions for inmates, serious staff shortages and turnover, and lack of programs to ensure offenders reintegrate successfully into society.

Signet Classics

People still have things to say about "Moby-Dick," Herman Melville's 1851 novel about Captain Ahab's obsessive and dangerous hunt for a great white whale.

"I was expecting, like, a tedious and masculine slog through this sea-faring adventure, but there’s so much more going on in 'Moby-Dick' about gender and language and humor and American identity," said poet Danny Caine, who owns The Raven Book Store in downtown Lawrence.

Martinez Immigration Law

A Kansas City immigration lawyer who was injured while trying to assist her 3-year-old client is suing the two immigration agents who allegedly shoved her to the ground and caused her injuries.

Andrea Martinez says she suffered a fractured right foot, bleeding and a concussion after she was forcibly separated from her client, whom she was reuniting with his pregnant mother in June 2018 at a local ICE facility. Both mother and child were being deported to Honduras.

Editor's note: This interview contains a homophobic slur.

Growing up as a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, Megan Phelps-Roper was taught that God hated gay people. The church, which was founded by Phelps-Roper's grandfather, Fred Phelps Sr., became infamous for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers — whose deaths it believed were a punishment for America's sins and its tolerance of homosexuality.

Pages

One Author's Quest To Expose Cultural Rifts In The Midwest

Lyz Lenz tried to start a church and preserve a marriage; both fell apart as the political got personal.

How A Wyandotte County ID Could Ease Life For The Poor & Homeless

Advocates have been pushing the Unified Government for years to issue photo IDs. A county spokesperson says they're still researching the idea.