ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis City counselor filed a stay seeking to temporarily stop an order issued by a federal judge requiring St. Louis jails to stop holding inmates because they can't pay bail.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig issued her decision Tuesday. Her ruling gives officials a week to hold new detention hearings for current inmates and says new arrestees must have a hearing within 48 hours.
At issue is the lawsuit's assertion that defendants typically don't get a hearing on release conditions until obtaining counsel. Appointment of a public defender can take a month or more, so the lawsuit says those too poor to hire an attorney often linger behind bars.
The counselor cites public safety as the main concern saying "the federal court has set a very short time period of seven days to grant nearly 900 felony detainees new bail hearings under new standards, or release them immediately."
The counselor said virtually all detainees currently in city custody are accused of serious felony charges, including 92 charged with murder, 23 with other degrees of homicide, 71 with first-degree assault, 96 with first-degree robbery and 72 with domestic violence, sexual offenses and violations of protection orders.
The judges ruling, however, still allows inmates to be held if they pose a danger to the community or there's no other way to ensure they show up for court.
The city counselor said the City supports bail reform and the protection of everyone's constitutional rights, and it is only seeking a stay out of caution and concern for its residents.