Judges raise bond to keep gun-toting suspects jailed longer - KMOV.com

Judges raise bond to keep gun-toting suspects jailed longer

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer
By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Police say they caught a young man robbing someone at gunpoint just hours after he left a St. Louis courtroom to face a different set of charges.

The accused robber is already awaiting trial for illegally carrying a loaded weapon last June.

We've seen this problem before and talked to judges and prosecutors about what can be done to fix it.

Two-thirds of everyone picked up for unlawful use of a weapon have been arrested before -- proof that something in the justice system isn't working.  Innocent people are dying at the hands of gun-toting criminals, and now it's making judges sit up and take notice to keep them behind bars longer.

Larnell Brown has been free for a year -- out on a $5,000 bond for carrying an illegal gun... until now.  Just three hours after he showed up for a routine court hearing this week, police say he robbed a man at gunpoint.  All for a lunchbox.

He's just one example of repeat offenders Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce sees coming through the system.

"Very rarely does somebody come into our system and when we punch his name into our computer and it doesn't come up with other stuff that we've had on him before," Joyce says.

Judge Jack Garvey thinks it's time to send a message.  He's responsible for setting bond amounts.

"The gun violence in the city is just nuts, so every time we see this as judges and prosecutors, we think something has to be done," Garvey says.

Until now, defendants with gun charges could post $3,000 to $5,000 and walk.  But Garvey now requires cash only to the tune of $30,000 to $5,000.  The goal is to keep suspects in jail until their trial.

"It may be effective, it may not, but it's something worth trying," Garvey says.  "If you are carrying a gun without a permit and you're on our streets then you will be held for a long time.  The idea is we think if you're walking the streets with a gun, there's a high probability you're going to shoot the gun."

"As a community, we're less tolerant of this culture of illegal guns that's taken hold of St. Louis," Joyce says.

The two hope bad guys' buddies get the message too.

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