The Supreme Court of Missouri is making changes about holding people in jail before trial, and how much money it takes to get out. The quote above is from Chief Justice Zel Fischer from his State of the Judiciary address, where according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, he noted that “’[t]hough presumed innocent, they lose their jobs, cannot support their families, and are more likely to reoffend.’” (Bail will go down in Missouri courts new reform plan, Lexi Churchill, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Jan. 31, 2019). The proposed plan would encourage judges “to consider alternative options to insure the defendant appears in court without being detained in the county jail.” (A new decision from the Missouri Supreme Court will soon limit how high bail bonds can be set for those accused of non-violent crimes, Sydnie Holzfaster,, Feb. 6, 2019).

In America, we are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but many people have to wait needlessly in jail for their case because they can’t afford bond, or because they haven’t paid court costs – or because they haven’t paid the costs of keeping themselves in jail! High bonds can of course be an important tool for persons accused of extremely violent crimes, or those who are a big flight risk (think of a James Bond villain with eight passports and a Swiss bank account). But for ordinary citizens just trying to have their case heard in court, even a few days in jail can mean losing a job, not paying child support, and not fulfilling obligations at home and with your kids. It is very encouraging to see the Supreme Court see the needs of Missouri’s hard-working families.

Stay tuned to the TRB blog for developments on this very positive plan from the Missouri Supreme Court.

Picture Source: pixabay

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