Missouri Supreme Court prohibits jail time for jail debts

Missouri Supreme Court prohibits jail time for jail debts
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The Missouri Supreme Court says local courts can’t throw people back in jail for not paying previous jail debts.

Prior to the ruling, indigent inmates who couldn’t pay the cost — commonly called board bills — could be returned to prison, adding to their debts. Critics, including Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt and the ACLU of Missouri, had argued the policy led to modern-day debtors’ prisons.

The Missouri Supreme Court judges on Tuesday ruled unanimously against local courts helping to recoup those costs with methods including jail time.

The case stems from two Missouri men who fell behind on paying the cost of their own imprisonment in county jail. Those charges are commonly referred to as board bills.

Both men had to return to court repeatedly regarding their bills. One was jailed for not paying.