Velda City agrees not to jail people for failing to post bail fo - KMOV.com

Velda City agrees not to jail people for failing to post bail for minor offenses

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VELDA CITY (KMOV.com) -

Changes are coming to another North County police department.

A new settlement recently means Velda City can no longer jail people for not being able to post bond for small offenses. It's a policy many small municipalities still have in place.

"It could be a random week day, it could be the day after pay day, the day before pay day. If you don't have whatever mystery number they ask for, you go to jail,” said Velda City resident Antuan Smith.

Smith said he's had to spend days in a Velda City jail for not being able to pay fines stemming from minor ordinance violations.

"I felt like it was kind of insulting more or else simply because I know the system doesn't work that way throughout the country or throughout the world,” he said.

"It's unconstitutional because it favors people who do have money. So any person who has 800-dollars, if you and I had been arrested it we would have instantly been released upon the payment 800 dollars,” said, Thomas Harvey, executive director of Arch City Defenders. Arch City Defenders is part of a group that filed the lawsuit.

"These are not misdemeanors, these aren't felonies, these aren't crime these are driving offenses typically as a result of someone's poverty,” he said.

Harvey said the city initially denied having such a policy but is now adopting a new policy after a court order.

"You let these folks out. You mail them a letter and tell them when their court date is and you let them show up to court. If they don't show up to court you give them a reminder,” he said.

It's a move Smith says has been a long time coming.

"Finally, simply, finally,” he said.

Harvey said he's will continue to pursue implementing a similar change in St. Ann.

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