ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – While police and prosecutors say higher bond amounts for gun crimes committed in the city of St. Louis send a strong message to criminals, many judges in the St. Louis area could be keeping them too low.
Gun crimes have soared in the city in 2012. Statistics obtained by News 4 show 202 more gun crimes committed so far this year over the same time frame in 2011.
In 2011, Judge Jack Garvey set a new precedent in St. Louis by setting bonds for gun crimes at an all-time high.
He required gun-toting defendants to post - at minimum - a $30,000, cash-only bond. Bonds were frequently set in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.
Police and prosecutors said it worked to keep gun suspects in jail and off the streets until their trials. Prosecutors said it cut down on the number of people re-offending while awaiting trial.
But this year, a new judge is in Garvey’s position. Judge Philip Heagney said the baseline for a gun crime in the city is a $30,000, cash-only bond.
Heagney says most people in the city would be hard-pressed to walk into the courthouse with that kind of cash in hand.
But St. Louis Circuits Attorney Jennifer Joyce says judges are not consistent. She says not all judges follow the precedent set forth by Garvey last year, which, she says, can put law-abiding citizens of St. Louis in danger.