cash bail | St. Louis Public Radio

cash bail

ArchCity Defenders' Michael-John Voss (at left) and Wash U's Peter Joy joined Thursday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Chief Justice Zel Fischer in January announced coming changes to the state’s pretrial rules, which govern bail, detention and other practices directly impacting citizens accused of a crime.

The new rules, described by Fischer as “common-sense modifications” within a system that too often treats defendants according to their pocketbooks instead of the law, go into effect July 1.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann discussed the implications with a local law professor and a representative from ArchCity Defenders.

Friday's show included the perspectives of St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards (at left), Close the Workhouse representative Inez Bordeaux (center) and Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday a federal judge ruled that St. Louis jails cannot hold inmates simply because they cannot make bail. That decision came just one day before a press conference this week at City Hall, where Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, joined representatives of the Close the Workhouse campaign in urging city officials to shut down the Medium Security Institution, known as the workhouse.

Cohen joined Inez Bordeaux, who spent about a month incarcerated in the workhouse in 2016, on St. Louis on the Air for a conversation with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl. Ahl also spoke with the city’s public safety director, Jimmie Edwards, who gave his perspective on the condition of the workhouse, the cash bail system and related topics.

Provided | ArchCity Defenders

ArchCity Defenders, the nonprofit civil rights law firm, has teamed up with the St. Louis County Library and the Mound City Bar Association to launch revised versions of its local “know your rights” guides.

Called Pro Se STL, the Latin translation of “for oneself,” the two pocket-sized guides focus on dealing with police and jail, as well as representing yourself in St. Louis Municipal Courts.

ArchCity Defenders Executive Director Blake Strode said the goal is to equip people with the necessary tools to help themselves when access to legal resources is unavailable.

Lindsey Michalowski | Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

The lead public defender in St. Charles County says a new mobile phone app he helped design could reduce the need for cash bail.

Michael Sato and a team of five developers came up with the idea for Freecog as part of the Global Legal Hackathon, which looks to use technology to solve criminal justice issues. Their proposal won the St. Louis event — the team will know by March 25 if they have advanced to the finals.

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.

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.

Lamya Orr tries to greet a friend who is inside the Workhouse while standing outside the gate with his children and their mother.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Since Thomas Harvey helped start ArchCity Defenders in 2009, he has delivered legal representation to homeless and working poor people throughout St. Louis. But now, Harvey is taking part in a nationwide effort that could get tens of thousands of people out of jail while they await a trial.

Harvey is relocating to Los Angeles to take a position with the Bail Project, which is seeking to pay the bails of roughly 160,000 people over the next few years. The organization plans to set up operations in 40 cities, including St. Louis. Harvey says the work will change lives and communities — and provide momentum to an existing activist movement to end cash bail.