STL Defence Fund & Bail Project

Gerrod Jordan is meeting with Brad Bilyeu, principal attorney with the STL Defense Fund Tue. night Oct. 27, 2020 at the St. Louis County Florissant Valley Branch Library. Jordan is trying to get his record cleared off of any outstanding warrents through The Bail Project. The Bail Project St. Louis, has launched a tap-in center to help people safely address court matters during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Bail Project – St. Louis opens a center at Flo Valley County Library branch

The Bail Project – St. Louis launched a community-based Tap-In Center to safely provide legal assistance and connections to local support services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tap-In Center is open on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. at the St. Louis County Library, Florissant Valley Branch, 195 N. New Florissant Rd. in Florissant.

The Tap-In Center provides opportunities to resolve old warrants without the fear of being arrested through the implementation of an amnesty program in collaboration with the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

At the center, people can also receive a new court date in the event that an individual misses a court appearance, learn the status of a St. Louis County case, and apply for a public defender.  Additionally, social service providers are stationed at the Tap-In Center to connect individuals with resources to meet needs, including temporary housing assistance, substance addiction assistance and transportation assistance. 

“When I first got to the center, I was a little nervous since I had this warrant on me, but when I started talking with the people, I was relieved,” said Earnest Holt, a Bail Project - St. Louis client.

“I felt better when I saw that people were putting in the extra steps to help me get my situation handled. It's honestly unheard of. Usually your whole family has to put money down to get you a paid lawyer to resolve something like this. I was at the point of trying to turn myself in when I got the information about this program. When I got there, I was connected with resources like temporary housing, where to get some clothes, where to get help with food, and the biggest thing, I got my warrant recalled for free. This was a way better option than turning myself in."

The Tap-In Center was created in collaboration with the St. Louis County Library, the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office, MacArthur Foundation Safety & Justice Challenge, University of Missouri-St. Louis, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the St. Louis County Department of Justice Services.

"The Tap-In center is a great example of community-led innovation,” said Mike Milton, The Bail Project’s Statewide Advocacy and Policy manager in Missouri.

“Historically, the courts have not met the needs of people who lack transportation to court, are unhoused, or don’t have a reliable way to get updates about their court dates. COVID-19 and the court closures exacerbated these issues. The Tap-in Center will make court access more equitable, provide people an opportunity to resolve state-issued criminal warrants without fear of being re-arrested, and connect people to community resources that address their needs. We are excited to partner with other community organizations and the courts on this effort.”

Face masks are required to be worn at all times in the center, and safety measures are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Bail Project is a national nonprofit that provides free bail assistance and community-based pretrial support for thousands of low-income Americans every year. We restore the presumption of innocence, reunite families, and challenge a system that criminalizes race and poverty. To date, The Bail Project has secured freedom for over 12,000 people in over 20 cities across the country.

Learn more about The Bail Project at bailproject.org.

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