St. Louis Woman Who Served 20 Days In Jail For Speeding Could Serve Six More Months
Being jailed for being poor is a growing epidemic in the St. Louis Black community.
November 26, 2018 at 8:53 pm
A Black St. Louis woman who previously served time for speeding could be returning to jail for six more months.
Precious Jones, 34, was driving to her sister's house in Kansas City, Missouri, on Mother's Day weekend in 2017. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jones was headed west on Interstate 70 when she was pulled over for driving 120 mph. She received a $120 ticket and was given an August court appearance in Lafayette County.
Jones missed her hearing.
"It slipped my mind," she told the Post-Dispatch.
After turning herself in, paying the bond on the outstanding warrant and calling the court to schedule a new court date, she thought she had worked everything out. From there, Jones enrolled in driver education classes and did community service. She hired a local attorney. He informed her that if she agreed to pay a higher fine, the points on the speeding ticket wouldn’t be a mark against her driver’s license.
Precious Jones agreed to do 20 days in jail on weekends for speeding—she was late to jail once, another time she missed jail because her car broke down. Now she's facing a six month jail sentence. "I'm losing everything. They keep coming back for more." https://t.co/reGhJrhXhR— Ethan Brown (@ethanbrown72) November 26, 2018
In May, Jones pleaded guilty to the Class B misdemeanor of speeding at least 26 mph over the speed limit. Then, her nightmare began.
For speeding, Jones was sentenced to six months in jail and given two years probation. According to the Post-Dispatch, the jail sentence would be annulled if Jones did 20 days "shock time" in jail on consecutive weekends.
Jones asked if rather than going to jail in Lafayette County, she could do time in St. Louis. Associate Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ro declined the compromise.
The conviction meant that her license was suspended, so Jones resorted to begging family and friends for rides to the Lafayette County Jail, which by car is more than a three-hour drive from St. Louis.
By July, Jones had finished her sentence, and she thought this chapter of her life was finally closed. Months later, in September, she received another warrant for her arrest from Lafayette County.
In June, her car broke down on the way to jail. Jones did her due diligence and phoned Lafayette County jail and informed them of her misfortune. They documented the call, and the next day, Jones arrived to serve her full two-day sentence. For prosecutor Kristen Hilbrenner, however, that wasn't enough. She wanted to revoke Jones' probation and sentence her to six months in jail.
Currently, Jones has a warrant out for her arrest with a $2,500 bond attached to it.
Even though she was promised not only from her attorney but from the courts that the speeding ticket would not lead to points against her license, no one informed the Department of Revenue. Consequently, Jones' license is now suspended.
In hopes that someone will hear her case and relinquish her from this new jail sentence, Jones has contacted the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Unfortunately, this is a growing epidemic among poor communities in St. Louis. The system has been fixed in a manner that routinely punishes defendants for minor crimes, yet issues an abhorrent fine that the accuser struggles to pay. Clifton Harris, another St. Louis resident, is facing a similar fate for a low-level misdemeanor that occurred in 2016.
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