Mother-Of-Five Suspended From Job, Faces Jail Time For Failing To Return Two Library Books

Mother-Of-Five Suspended From Job, Faces Jail Time For Failing To Return Two Library Books

Failure to return rented property is subject to trial, but she feels it is not okay to go to jail for two books.

A mother-of-five from Charlotte, Michigan, was appalled to learn an arrest warrant was issued against her for not punctually returning books she had borrowed from a local library. 27-year-old, Melinda Sanders-Jones had borrowed 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' and the 'Night' trilogy from Charlotte Community Library in 2017. However, she didn't know about the pending fines until a few months ago, according to CNN affiliate WILX. This played havoc in her professional life as well.


Sanders, a security guard, had been patiently anticipating a promotion when her boss called up last week and informed her about an open arrest warrant he found while checking her background. Of course, she didn't take it seriously and simply laughed it off assuming that her superior was just pulling her leg. But when her boss said he was serious, she was left astounded. "I was like, no, there's no way. There's no way I have a warrant," Sanders told WILX. 


Confirming the charges against Sanders Chief Paul Brentar of Charlotte Police Department told the outlet that a warrant was out for her arrest as she failed to return rental property. "I really don't think that going to jail over those two books is OK, and I definitely didn't want to steal their property," expressed Sanders. Furthermore, Brentar revealed how the Economic Crimes Unit representing the county prosecutor's office had conducted an investigation several months after Sanders failed to return the property of the library. 


Now the website dealing with such cases that involve failure to return rental property states that repeat offenders could face formal criminal prosecution. Speaking to CNN, Marlene Arras, the Director of Financial Services at the Charlotte Community Library explained that the library's privacy policy hinders them from discussing the details of any individual account publicly. However, she added, "there's a lot of information that she (Sanders) is not providing."


As per the rules laid down by Charlotte Library, a person failing to return a borrowed item for over a week is subjected to be notified via call, text, or email, depending on their preferred method. The notifications are repeated when the item is overdue by two weeks, then again at one month overdue and finally at three months. At the fourth month mark, the library sends a legal warning via mail stating, "If you don't bring these materials back in two weeks, we will submit it to the Economic Crimes Unit," informed Arras. 


Failure to return the property after the final notification is considered to be an act of theft against the property, she explained. Contrary to the information provided by Arras, Sanders denies receiving any notifications for being late which could have been due to her changing addresses quite frequently at that point in time. Moreover, she also mentioned changing her phone number at a particular time to escape an abusive relationship and ended up staying in a shelter for domestic violence victims, the address of which was kept confidential.


According to a spokesman from the Eaton County Courthouse, the prosecutor's office had launched the said warrant on October 29, 2018, and a pretrial meeting has been scheduled on November 7 at 10:30 a.m. if the value of the books is found to be less than $200 Sanders will be charged a maximum fine of $500 or will be facing no more than 93 days in prison as per the Michigan State Penal Code.


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