ACLU of Missouri Smart Justice Campaign, St. Louis County

How is the ACLU of Missouri involved in the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney race?

The ACLU of Missouri is spearheading a voter education campaign. We believe that voters should keep their elected prosecutor accountable. In St. Louis County, the elected prosecuting attorney, Bob McCulloch, has not ended cash bail or effectively used the alternative drug court system.

We strongly encourage both candidates to end the system of cash bail, which punishes those who can’t afford to buy their freedom from jail and lets rich people walk free. Both candidates should commit to the use of alternatives to jail or prison and treat the root causes of crime. Candidates should commit to ending cash bail, improving diversion practices, and fostering transparency in their office in order to support criminal justice reform.

How many people in St. Louis County face cash bail and sit in jail awaiting justice?

  • Since 2012, 2,775 people faced cash bail for misdemeanors. The average amount was $445.
  •  From 2012-2017, 5,536 people faced pre-trial detention of one to five days for a misdemeanor. This means 683 people spent more than 20 days in jail with a misdemeanor charge pre-trial over the same time period. Pre-trial detention is often a violation of “innocent until proven guilty,” with individuals losing jobs, housing, and time with their family before they have been convicted of any crime.
    • In 2017, 899 people sat behind bars pre-trial for one to five days charged with a misdemeanor.

What do people face cash bail for?

  • Since 2012, 664 people have face cash bail of more than $1,000 because of probation violations. This can include not registering a change of address or missing even one meeting with their probation officer.
  • Since 2012, 149 people have faced cash bail of more than $1,300 because they could not pay child support. Punishing parents who can’t afford to pay with jail time and more payments does not support children.
  • Since 2012, over 850 people faced cash bail for failure to appear in court. Their average bail was $414. Individuals who do not appear in court are often poor, they don’t have the resources to take off work and find child care for dependents.

How many people are being offered alternatives to jail in St. Louis County?

  • Since St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch started his pre-charge, alternative drug court program in 2014, only 99 people have been enrolled. Only 36 people have completed the program. That averages to nine people per year.
  • Only 75 people participated in drug court in 2017, only 25 veterans received access to veteran’s treatment court, and only 75 individuals participated in mental health court. These numbers are strikingly low.

What steps could Saint Louis County take to reform?