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Law & Order

People with outstanding warrants can find legal help at new St. Louis County Library center

Attorneys and volunteers with the Tap In Center work on cases at the Florissant Valley branch of the St. Louis County Library on April 12, 2022. A second center opened at the Lewis and Clark branch this month.
Rachel Lippmann
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Taylor Burrows (in black), Mason Scott (left), and Miranda Gibson (right), work on cases at the Tap In Center at the Florissant Valley branch of the St. Louis County Library on Tuesday. A second center opened at the Lewis and Clark branch this month.

A joint effort to help people get warrants recalled or address other legal matters is expanding to a second location.

The Tap In Center at the Lewis and Clark branch of the St. Louis County Library in Moline Acres opened earlier this month. The first center opened in Florissant in September 2020.

Miranda Gibson joins St. Louis on the Air

The centers are a collaboration between advocacy groups like the Bail Project and the prosecutors and public defenders in St. Louis County. People are able to come to the library without risking arrest for outstanding warrants. Attorneys at the Florissant location have helped nearly 300 people.

Matthew Mee was among them. Though he knew he had a warrant, he was getting inpatient treatment for substance use disorder, which meant he would miss his court date.

Mee said he planned to finish detox, then turn himself in to the court and accept whatever punishment was coming. But, he said, doctors at the Hyland Center told him about the Tap In Center. He went to the center in Florissant, and the following day, the warrant was cleared.

Mee said being able to avoid jail time allowed him to stay in recovery.

“I was going to AA meetings, I was seeing my sponsor, I was going to counseling,” he said. “Had I been doing all that, and then gone to jail, for somebody like myself, and I know a lot of others, once you are in jail, you really don’t care.”

A map showing the location of the Tap In Center in north St. Louis County.
© Mapbox, © OpenStreetMap
The Tap In Center is located at the Lewis and Clark branch of the St. Louis County Library in Moline Acres.

Taylor Burrows, an attorney who works at the Tap In Center as part of a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, said the new location was chosen strategically. It’s closer to a bus line, she said, and easier to access from the city of St. Louis. Plus, she said, research by the foundation showed there was a need for the center’s services in the ZIP codes in and around the Lewis and Clark branch.

“We know that there are a lot of arrests that take place there, and a lot of warrants that come out of there,” she said. “We also saw that it was a ZIP code where we were not getting a ton of folks into the Florissant library.”

The center in Florissant is open every Tuesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For now, the location at the Lewis and Clark branch is only open on the first Tuesday of the month, but organizers hope to expand those hours. Individuals who need help can also call 314-669-6185 or email TapInSTL@gmail.com.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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