"Debtors Prisons" Bill Passes House

A bill that would forbid courts from threatening jail time if a defendant fails to pay a board bill from a previous stay in jail overwhelming passed the House by a vote of 156-1 this week. The bill, HB 192, sponsored by Rep. Bruce DeGroot (R-Chesterfield), still allows the counties to use civil means to collect jail debt. The bill would also do away with "show-cause" hearings, in which defendants must report to a judge every month to give updates on efforts to pay down the jail debt. Currently, if the person fails to appear at the hearing, the judge can issue an arrest warrant and put the person back in jail. The bill now goes to the Senate where the MCC will testify in support of the bill.

Last month, the Missouri Supreme Court heard a case of an individual who is challenging the legality of board bills. He had been charged a board bill for a jail stay and was subsequently arrested again for not paying the board bill. The court has not issued a ruling in the case.

March 8, 2019 - 3:22pm
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