Missouri Supreme Court Ends Debtors' Prisons

Missouri Supreme Court

On March 19, in a unanimous opinion written by Judge Mary Russell, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that judges in Missouri can no longer threaten indigent defendants with jail time if they are unable to pay board bills for incarceration in the county jail. "While persons are legally responsible for the cost of their board bills under (state law), if such responsibilities fall delinquent, the debts cannot be taxed as court costs and the failure to pay the debt cannot result in another incarceration," the court wrote. The ruling puts an end to the practice of turning county jails into de facto debtors' prisons.

HB 192, sponsored by Rep. Bruce DeGroot (R-Chesterfield), would put an end to the payment review hearings and require that board bills be collected through civil means. The bill passed the House by a vote of 156-1. Now Rep. DeGroot is considering amending his bill to ban the practice of charging for jail time altogether.

March 29, 2019 - 2:09pm

Latest Posts

Easter Draws New Members to the Catholic Faith

The season of Lent is one of reflection, of deep thought and connection with our Church. As we prepare for Easter Vigil, it is...Read more

Senate Passes Online Trafficking Provisions

This week, the Missouri Senate passed legislation that would penalize internet sites used to promote human trafficking as part of a larger bill...Read more

Senate Hears SMI Death Penalty Exemption Bill

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that would exempt persons with serious mental Illness (SMI) from the...Read more

Subscribe to Blog
  • 1 of 49