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Working Mom Facing Possible Jail Time Over Late Library Books

woman shocked reading

The life of a working mom is non-stop busy. When you're not working, you're taking care of your kids and when you're not taking care of your kids, you're probably cleaning or trying to check things off of your neverending to-do-list. The only way to manage as a mom while maintaining your sanity is to realize that sometimes things are going to fall through the cracks.

For Melinda Sanders Jones, taking books back to the library was what fell through the cracks and you'll never believe what happened because of it. Melinda is a mom from Michigan that learned that she forgot to return two books that she borrowed in 2017 when tried to use a printer at her local library a few months ago. She was unable to use the printer and got a notice she was banned from the services. When she went to find out why, she learned that it was because of the books that she'd failed to return. She says that she hadn't intentionally meant to keep the books, they just slipped her mind, no doubt because she had a million other things to do as a mom of five. As soon as she realized that the books were outstanding, she returned them.

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Melinda was expecting to have a fine that she could pay and have her library privileges restored but what she got was far worse. After receiving a promotion at her job that required a background check, Melinda learned that there was a warrant out for her arrest for the two books"Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Night" that she'd returned late. The charge? Failure to return rental property. This charge carries a possible 93-day jail sentence and a potential $500 fine. 

Book in library with old open textbook, stack piles of literature text archive on reading desk, and aisle of bookshelves in school study class room background for academic education learning concept
Credit: iStock

Melinda's boss alerted about the warrant as soon as he learned about it. Since finding out about the charge, Melinda has been fingerprinted and has had to appear in court for the matter. As if this isn't already enough, Melinda hasn't been able to work since finding out about the warrant for her arrest. Her next court date is scheduled for Thursday, November 7th. She's hopeful that the matter will be resolved then for good.

The local library where Melinda borrowed the books from wouldn't comment on the case but indicated that they send regular late notices for outstanding books. Melinda claims that she never received the notices because she moved a lot during the 2 year time period. Regardless of whether she received them or not, the charge and the penalty seems a little extreme. Whatever fee she ends up paying combined with the loss of wages from work already outweighs the cost of the two-books and as a working mom of 5, it's doubtful that she needs anything else weighing her down.

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