Working in public policy rarely allows for complete, unadulterated wins. But the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision in Missouri v Richey was a pleasant exception. In a unanimous decision, the Court overruled previous courts, writing:
While persons are legally responsible for the costs of their board bills under section 221.070, if such responsibilities fall delinquent, the debts cannot be taxed as court costs and the failure to pay that debt cannot result in another incarceration.
We previously wrote about the plight of “pay to stay” debtors prisons. In short, courts were locking people up for not adequately paying the fees associated with their previous incarceration, triggering an awful cycle. The Show-Me Institute joined in filing a friend of the court brief on behalf of George Richey. We are grateful to Mr. Richey, among others, who chose to challenge this practice. We look forward to more victories in our search for sensible criminal justice reforms.