Zel Fischer, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri, announced a pretrial reform plan on Thursday.
In his annual State of the Judiciary address, Fischer said, “We all share a responsibility to protect the public–but we also have a responsibility to ensure those accused of crime are fairly treated according to the law, and not their pocket books.” He went on to outline the changes.
First, “[t]he court must start with non-monetary conditions of release,” and only assign bail if needed. The bail must also not be higher than necessary. Second, the court must examine if bail should be waived or minimized before ordering a defendant to pay. Third, a defendant may only be detained pretrial if required for safety. Finally, the reforms guarantee a “speedy trial” for defendants who are detained pretrial.
The changes will be effective beginning on July 1.
The announcement comes after the city of St. Louis was sued earlier this week over the cash bail system.