Judge: St. Louis jails can’t hold inmates who can’t pay

ST. LOUIS – A federal judge says St. Louis jails must stop holding inmates simply because they can’t pay bail.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig issued her decision Tuesday. Her ruling gives officials a week to hold new detention hearings for current inmates and says new arrestees must have a hearing within 48 hours.

At issue is the lawsuit’s assertion that defendants typically don’t get a hearing on release conditions until obtaining counsel. Appointment of a public defender can take a month or more, so the lawsuit says those too poor to hire an attorney often linger behind bars.

The ruling still allows inmates to be held they pose a danger to the community or there’s no other way to ensure they show up for court.

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