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Missouri Supreme Court strikes down jail time for jail debts

(AP) – The Missouri Supreme Court says local courts can’t throw people back in jail for not paying previous jail debts.

Judges on Tuesday ruled unanimously against local courts helping to recoup those costs with methods including jail time. Critics, including Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt and the ACLU of Missouri, had argued the policy led to modern-day debtors’ prisons.

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.

Attorney Josh Jones defended the practice in court. He says the ruling could mean taxpayers shoulder more of the burden for county jail costs.

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