PAGEDALE, MO (KPLR) - You Paid For It continues the investigation of High Metrolink fees putting less fortunate St. Louisians in a real financial bind and even landing some of them in jail
I discover the only tiny municipality in St Louis County with the power to issue No Fare Metro Citations and gets to keep the high fees from it. The fine alone is $82 for a no fare fee. It's the City of Pagedale, with a population about 3,300 people
People get cited because they didn't buy a $2.50 Metro ticket. Then the municipality adds on municipal Court costs that can drive it up to $200 bucks and worse. We investigate the plight of a homeless man jailed for two weeks because of the No Fare Metro citation issued by the tiny North County town.
Archcity Defenders is representing the man in his battle with Pagedale. Apparently part of the escalating fines and fees are because of a Failure to Appear in Court on the Metrolink Citation. But the man was homeless and never received a notice. After his arrest he sat in Pine Lawn Jail for two weeks because he didn't have the $200 to get out.
It's a major issue affecting a great many people and landing a lot them behind bars. Picture this, Metro No fare violators in the same jail as robbers, rapists and killers. This when officials are griping about overcrowded jails and the need to make room for more serious offenders, with taxpayers footing the bill to incarcerate them for the Metro fines.
This is my second report on this issue.
Besides Pagedale the other entities that can issue Metrolink Citations are the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County. Together they issued a total of 6,000 Metrolink Citations last year. We couldn't tell how many people were arrested and jailed. But governmental entities are raking in tens of thousands of dollars on these fines and fees.
While no one is saying there should not be punishment, the man in question is going to jail over a $2.50 citation.
As an attorney with Archcity Defenders put it, "It's one of the ways the current Municipal Court system makes people poor and keep them poor."
We caught up to the St. Louis County Councilwoman whose district includes the tiny town of Pagedale; she said that maybe getting thrown in jail isn't too harsh a punishment.
The town’s Mayor figured it was better to run than talk.