Plaintiff in federal lawsuit against Maplewood speaks out -

Plaintiff in federal lawsuit against Maplewood speaks out

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Credit: KMOV Credit: KMOV

One of the plaintiffs involved in a lawsuit against the City of Maplewood is finally speaking out.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was arrested for not paying several tickets and for not showing up to his court date.

“I stayed two days and my bond was lowered to $200, and I’ve just been threatened with this, or threatened with that. Pay, pay, pay,” he said.

Other plaintiffs have claimed the same thing happened to them.

ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit legal group that is leading the lawsuit, said the city runs a pay-to-play system.

“You’re not supposed to jail someone in the United States of America solely because they are unable to make a payment. That’s just not the law, it hasn’t been that way for a long time. It has been the common practice in our region for such a long time that we’ve sort of forgotten how insane it is to lock somebody up because they are poor,” said ArchCity co-founder, Thomas Harvey.

According to the lawsuit, Maplewood’s court recordings state that a person cannot cancel an arrest warrant unless they make a cash payment. It also claims the pay wall blocks access to Maplewood’s justice system, meaning only people with money can access the court.

“This is the lowest level of mass incarceration in the United States. It’s these municipal courts where you’re not even charged with a crime. These are civil ordinance violations. Yet, if you don’t come to court or pay the fine, you can be jailed for that,” Harvey said.

News 4 reached out to the City of Maplewood about the lawsuit, but have yet to hear back from them.

The problem isn’t just in Maplewood. Earlier this year, the City of Jennings settled a similar case with the ArchCity Defenders.

It's too early to tell how the case against Maplewood will play out, but the plaintiffs are hoping for a positive outcome.

“I hope to be treated fair. Like a human being. I hope for equality. I hope this justice system in Maplewood can be stopped," the plaintiff said.

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