Missouri attorney general files first brief in ‘debtors prison’ lawsuit

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt argues in a brief filed with the Missouri Supreme Court courts should change the way the cost of incarceration—commonly called board bills—is collected from indigent inmates.

In a brief filed Monday, Schmidt argued that collecting board bills as court costs create modern-day debtors prisons. Indigent inmates who can’t pay their board bills as court costs can be returned to prison, adding to their debts.

Schmidt argued board bills should be paid a civil collection process, which wouldn’t threaten more jail time for failure to pay. He argues no Missouri law provides authority to consider jail debts as court costs.

Schmidt’s brief comes in one of several ongoing cases filed by Public Defender Matthew Mueller challenging how board bills are collected.

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