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Lawsuit challenges St. Louis’ cash bail system

January 29, 2019

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal lawsuit accuses the city of St. Louis of denying due process by imprisoning defendants for their inability to pay cash bail.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-based nonprofit civil rights law firm, on behalf of four plaintiffs.

The suit says that St. Louis’ cash bail policies violate the “fundamental constitutional right to pretrial liberty” and a suspect’s “right not to be detained because of their poverty.”

The lawsuit state’s that a defendant typically doesn’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.

A message seeking comment from the city on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

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