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.