| officially went into effect Monday, meaning courts will no longer be able to detain certain nonviolent offenders before a trial simply because of an inability to afford bail.
The state’s highest court announced the move from monetary bail requirements during a State of the Judiciary address in January. The Supreme Court has tasked judges with considering non-monetary conditions of release unless deemed necessary for public safety or to ensure an alleged offender will show up to a scheduled court appearance.
“Too many who are arrested cannot afford bail even for low-level offenses and remain in jail awaiting a hearing,” Justice Zel Fischer said. “Though presumed innocent, they lose their jobs, cannot support their families, and are more likely to re-offend. We all share a responsibility to protect the public — but we also have a responsibility to ensure those accused of a crime are fairly treated according to the law and not their pocketbook.”
Last month, a federal judge ruled that St. Louis could not continue to keep people in prison for simply being unable to afford bail — a precursor to the changes that went into effect Monday and underscoring what the state Supreme Court had decided.
Thomas Harvey, an attorney with the Advancement Project and part of the team that filed the lawsuit in St. Louis, said the judge’s decision goes a step further than the Supreme Court by ensuring courts clearly “articulate on the record what standard they are applying to make a determination that a person has to be held in preventative detention.”
“This judge has rightly indicated that simply because the Missouri Supreme Court has rules that are supposed to govern the actions of judges, doesn’t mean we can solely rely on that in order to ensure people’s constitutional rights are being protected,” Harvey previously told The Missouri Times. “She’s saying just because these new rules are supposed to go into place, doesn’t mean a court is going to follow those rules.”
However, the move has been derided as a “catch and release” program by those opposed to the changes. The American Bail Coalition, particularly, called the changes a “potentially unconstitutional move” that could “demoralize law enforcement, embolden criminals, and give short if any shrift to the rights of … those victimized by crime.”
Some law enforcement officials in the state have also opposed the changes.
“The Missouri Supreme Court has basically given a free pass to those who are repeatedly breaking into our house, our businesses, stealing vehicles, or dealing drugs,” Laclede County Sheriff David Millsap told KOLR-TV.
A few bills similar to the Supreme Court’s changes were brought up during the 2019 legislative session, including Rep. Steve Robert’s HB 666, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn was the editor in chief of The Missouri Times from 2020-2022. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
The legal field is full of abbreviations and legal jargon that the average citizen does not understand. This is especially unhelpful when you are faced with criminal charges and don’t understand what possible sentences really mean.
What are SIS and SES?
The two most common types of sentences in Missouri are what are called SIS and SES.
SIS stands for Suspended Imposition of Sentence.
This is what the typical person understands as probation for lesser offenses. So, for example, if a prosecutor offers you a deal of SIS 3, that is the equivalent of the prosecutor offering you three years of probation with no designated sentence.
So, with an SIS, if the person successfully completes probation, the conviction will not appear on their record and they won’t face jail time.
However, if probation isn’t completed successfully, then the person’s probation is revoked and the entire original range of punishment is available to the judge when he/she chooses to sentence the person.
SES stands for Suspended Execution of Sentence.
The difference here between SES and SIS is that an SES issues a sentence, and it is a conviction regardless of whether or not the person completes probation successfully. With SES if your probation gets revoked, it is revoked to the previously issued sentence.
For example, if someone is given a sentence of 4 SES 2, that person is given two years of probation, but if it gets revoked, the person will serve four years in jail.
The number before “SES” is what the issued sentence is, and that sentence is suspended by the number after “SES”, which is the term of probation. Using the 4 SES 2 example from above, successful completion of probation will still show up as a conviction, but you will not serve jail time.
To be sentenced to a diversion program, one must be determined to be eligible for such a program. Diversion is often used in drug court cases. If one completes the diversion program successfully, then the case is dismissed. The diversion program is done prior to a plea.
For rehabilitative sentences, the format can look quite odd. A person is sentenced to four years (or whichever number of years) in prison pursuant to Missouri statute (R.S.Mo. § 559.115). The almost standard sentence of this time (at least in Jackson County) is “4/120 ITC.”
The person charged will do 120 days in a treatment program and the judge will review that person’s progress. If all is going well, then they will be released to serve probation which is the number of years sentenced.
The 120 days can be either Institutional Treatment Center (a drug treatment program), a general population, or shock (shock is an alternative program to incarceration, which provides a different environment for young/non-violent offenders to provide help to promote reintegration).
This is the most serious type of sentence to receive. MDAI stands for Missouri Division of Adult Institutions, which is essentially the Department of Corrections. This type of sentence means that there is no probation offered and it is simply prison time.
An example of such a sentence is 6 years MDAI, which says that the person should be sentenced to six years in prison.
Time served usually applies when someone has been in custody and/or has prior convictions. An example is when someone is arrested for the offense and does not make bail and, if a low-level offense, they might be eligible for time served if the time they have been in custody equates to the typical sentence for the offense.
When sentenced to time served, the prosecutors will typically say some time that is shorter than the time the person actually served so that they do not have to serve any more time in jail.
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What is the point of book and release?
COURT BOOK & RELEASE (B&R) A Court B&R is ordered by the court to report to a detention facility on a specific date and time to be booked into Sheriff's custody and then is immediately released. This is done to create an arrest record and is considered 1 day of custody.
What does cited and released mean?
In California, cite and release is the practice of issuing a citation for suspected unlawful conduct, but not bringing the suspect to jail for a formal booking. Instead, suspects are released on the condition that they make a signed promise show up to court, later on.
How long can the police hold you without charging you in Missouri?
544.170. Twenty hours detention on arrest without warrant — twenty-four hours detention for certain offenses, rights of confinee — violations, penalty.
How long can police hold your property without charges?
The police will hold your property until all relevant matters have been dealt with. Once the letter of authorisation has been sent to you the general procedure is for them to wait 28 days for you to collect your property or for a response either by telephone or in writing.