Carolina Hidalgo | KBIA

Carolina Hidalgo

Carolina Hidalgo joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as the station’s first visual journalist. She now produces photographs, digital stories and occasional radio features with a focus on social justice issues. Previously, she worked as a staff photographer at the Naples Daily News and as a photo intern, online picture editor and video producer at the Tampa Bay Times. Carolina also volunteers as a mentor and educator with NPR’s Next Generation Radio project. She is a proud native of New York City and a member of Women Photograph and Diversity Photo. Her work has been recognized by Pictures of the Year International, the Florida Society of News Editors, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Before he got another chance at freedom, Tyrone Henley spent six weeks in jail, unable to put up $25,000 cash bail.

But last week, Henley and dozens of others in St. Louis jails received new bail hearings after a federal judge ruled the city’s bail-setting practices unconstitutional.

At his hearing, a judge decided to release Henley after he signed a promise to return to court. But there was one more condition: In order to stay out of jail, the 55-year-old has to wear an electronic ankle monitor.

And although Henley is glad to be out of the city’s Medium Security Institution, commonly known as the Workhouse, he said he still feels confined.

Exactly one month after a Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown about a mile from her home, Fran Griffin attended her first city council meeting.

Determined to make her voice heard, she joined more than 600 people inside a crowded church for a contentious meeting. Since that night in 2014, Griffin has attended nearly every council meeting.

On Tuesday, the activist and mother of three will be sworn in as Ferguson’s newest council member and the first black woman to represent the city’s predominantly black third ward.

St. Louisan Elizabeth Vega loads up a rental van with screen printing materials, Sharpie markers, and a box of flowers. She’s packing for a protest more than 1,000 miles away.

The Chicana poet and artist has become one of the region’s most recognizable activists in the years since the shooting death of Michael Brown sparked an ongoing protest movement. Alongside a collective of artists and activists, Vega often demonstrates against police violence using big banners, colorful drawings and papier-mâché puppets.

Once a month, Jocelyn Garner steps off a bus and walks into a dimly lit waiting room in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis. Her name is called, and an office worker jots down her personal information and asks if she’s staying out of trouble.

The visits take less than five minutes and cost her $30. Her payments go to Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services, a private company based in St. Charles that tracks and monitors people awaiting trial in St. Louis.

Garner is one of many in St. Louis court-ordered to report to the for-profit company, commonly known as EMASS, after posting bail. Under the law, she’s innocent — but as she waits for her day in court, she pays monthly fees to maintain her freedom. Missing a payment could lead to a warrant for her arrest.

Criminal-justice reform advocates and public defenders are calling on the St. Louis circuit court to reduce its use of monitoring systems that require defendants on bond to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to a private company while awaiting trial.

In a six-page letter sent Thursday to judges of the 22nd Circuit Court, advocates argue that forcing people to pay for court-ordered ankle monitors and check-ins as a condition of their release from jail is an unconstitutional and unnecessary financial burden. Payments are made to Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services – commonly called EMASS – a private company based in St. Charles.

2018 was a year filled with memorable news events in the St. Louis region, including the indictment and resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens, a student-led march against gun violence following a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida and midterm elections.

St. Louis Public Radio photojournalist Carolina Hidalgo shares her favorite photos from those and many quieter moments that made 2018 a year to remember.

When immigration authorities ordered Alex Garcia to turn himself in for deportation last year, his wife Carly decided to fight to keep her family together.

Instead of driving to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, where Alex would be jailed then sent back to his native Honduras, the couple drove 150 miles to a church in Maplewood.

It’s now been one year since Alex took sanctuary at Christ Church, United Church of Christ.