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.