- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

VELDA CITY, Mo. (AP) - The St. Louis suburb of Velda City no longer can jail people in lieu of cash bail for municipal infractions under a federal court settlement over the bond system’s treatment of poor people.

The lawsuit resolved Wednesday was filed on behalf of a 26-year-old mother of two who Velda City police arrested April 2 for driving with a suspended license, a headlight violation and related offenses, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1BLU2DG) reported. Prosecutors asked for $800 to allow Donya Pierce’s release, and she was eventually freed after her attorneys got involved.

The lawsuit challenged the $350 Velda City requires for release on an offense of driving with a suspended license and $150 for most other ordinance violations.

Velda City now must release people on recognizance or an unsecured bond, and anyone with misdemeanor or felony charges would be turned over to the state courts and be seen by a judge within 24 hours.

Activist groups that pressed the lawsuit cheered the outcome.

“We’ve been putting poor and mostly black people in jail over traffic tickets in St. Louis and across the country,” Thomas Harvey, executive director of the ArchCity Defenders group, said in a statement. “We have to end our addiction to criminalizing poverty, perpetuating our racist history, and building our economies on the backs of the poor.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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