Judge rules that St. Louis jails can’t hold inmates who can’t pay
St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Robert Patrick
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge on Tuesday barred St. Louis jails from holding inmates simply because they can't pay bail. She granted class action status to inmates who sued.
U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig's ruling gives officials a week to hold new detention hearings for current inmates in the city's two jails and says new arrestees must have a hearing within 48 hours of their arrest. Inmates can still be held, Fleissig wrote, if they are a danger to the community or if there is no other way to ensure they show up for court.
The ruling could affect hundreds of inmates in the city of St. Louis, potentially granting them new hearings, or even releasing them. It comes amid a widespread re-examination of bail practices in Missouri and across the country, and amid local efforts to close the city's workhouse, formally known as the Medium Security Institution.
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