The Bail Project | St. Louis Public Radio

The Bail Project

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Criminal-justice reform advocates and public defenders are calling on the St. Louis circuit court to reduce its use of monitoring systems that require defendants on bond to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to a private company while awaiting trial.

In a six-page letter sent Thursday to judges of the 22nd Circuit Court, advocates argue that forcing people to pay for court-ordered ankle monitors and check-ins as a condition of their release from jail is an unconstitutional and unnecessary financial burden. Payments are made to Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services – commonly called EMASS – a private company based in St. Charles.

The Bail Project plans to bail out tens of thousands of people in dozens of cities. Since January, its St. Louis team has bailed out 756 people.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The first time Michael Milton helped buy somebody’s freedom, he didn’t expect it would be so simple.

He filed some paperwork, handed over cash and waited. Several hours later, the 19-year-old for whom Milton posted bail walked out of the St. Louis City Justice Center. The teenager had spent three months behind bars because he didn’t have $750 to make bail.