22nd Circuit Court | St. Louis Public Radio

22nd Circuit Court

Every month, Jocelyn Garner reports to Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services for a bond supervision check-in that costs her $30. Garner is awaiting trial on charges filed nearly a year ago.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Once a month, Jocelyn Garner steps off a bus and walks into a dimly lit waiting room in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis. Her name is called, and an office worker jots down her personal information and asks if she’s staying out of trouble.

The visits take less than five minutes and cost her $30. Her payments go to Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services, a private company based in St. Charles that tracks and monitors people awaiting trial in St. Louis.

Garner is one of many in St. Louis court-ordered to report to the for-profit company, commonly known as EMASS, after posting bail. Under the law, she’s innocent — but as she waits for her day in court, she pays monthly fees to maintain her freedom. Missing a payment could lead to a warrant for her arrest.

Supporters of the campaign to shut down the medium security jail in St. Louis known as the Workhouse listen on Jan. 28, 2019 as Blake Strode, the executive director of ArchCity Defenders, outlines a lawsuit against the city's cash bail system.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:55  p.m. Jan. 28th with a copy of the lawsuit — A legal advocacy group has sued St. Louis over a cash bail system it calls unconstitutional.

St. Louis-based ArchCity Defenders, along with the Advancement Project, Civil Rights Corps and the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law, claim in a federal lawsuit filed Monday that individuals charged with a crime routinely spend weeks behind bars because they cannot afford bail amounts that are higher than the national average. Those same defendants, the suit says, are not given a chance to advocate for a lower bail.