Beth Huebner | St. Louis Public Radio

Beth Huebner

Beth Huebner is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County has significantly reduced its jail population over the past year, as Missouri Lawyers Weekly reported last month. Officials say the drop from an over-capacity total of 1,242 inmates in July 2018 down to 965 as of May 2019 has a lot to do with justice reform efforts that began in the wake of Ferguson protests.

University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Beth Huebner has led research in collaboration with the county, its circuit court and service providers – an effort fueled by $4.5 million in grant funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Huebner joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss the progress she’s observed in the county system as well as aspects of it still in need of change.

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.

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.