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Mixed first round result for workhouse inmates who sued St. Louis over cash bail

Mixed first round result for workhouse inmates who sued St. Louis over cash bail

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ST. LOUIS • Four inmates who were or are still in the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, better known as the Workhouse, got mixed results in court hearings this week prompted by a federal lawsuit claiming constitutional violations for the city’s bail practices.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, says that St. Louis routinely imprisons “people on unaffordable money bail, den(ies) them even the most basic procedural protections, and violate(s) their fundamental constitutional right to pretrial liberty and their equal protection right not to be detained because of their poverty.”

Before a hearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, both sides struck a deal to provide the four inmates another bail hearing in St. Louis Circuit Court, citing a recent Missouri Supreme Court rule change.

One man, Richard Robards, was freed on his own recognizance by Circuit Judge Paula Bryant. Another, Aaron Thurman, was freed with electronic monitoring and other requirements by Judge Michael Noble. Two others had their requests rejected, court records show.

Thurman, 24, was facing a drug charge and a charge of resisting arrest. Robards, 25, faces burglary and stealing charges and was hoping to get out of jail to help his pregnant partner.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Mark Neill kept the bail at $15,000 cash for Jeffrey Rozelle, 42, who is facing tampering, resisting arrest and armed criminal action charges.

Jeffrey Rozelle

Jeffrey Rozelle, one of the plaintiffs in the suit over bail practices.

The lawsuit says Rozelle cares for four teenage children, and Thurman takes care of his three children and his sister, who has breast cancer.

Judge Thom Clark II kept David Buster Dixon’s bail at $30,000 cash only, writing that he “is a danger to the community.” Dixon, 52, is facing a gun charge. The suit says he hasn’t been receiving proper treatment for seizures and high blood pressure.

Attorneys for ArchCity Defenders and other groups who filed the suit had sought a temporary restraining order that would have immediately freed the men. With the results of the four hearings, the lawsuit will proceed at its normal pace, court records show.

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