You might think that the price of overdue library books would come in the form of a fine but, one woman in Michigan, US, is facing jail time for having two long overdue books from her local library. Despite the fact she has since returned the two books, prosecutors are moving ahead with the case supposedly to set an example to others with books that are overdue.
Melinda Sanders assumed she’d simply have to return the two books and pay a fine, but now she could be facing a 93 days in jail, on top of a $500 fine. Sanders was recently arrested and charged with failure to return rental property. The two books in question are Night and Where the Sidewalk Ends, by author Shel Silverstein, and were borrowed in 2017. Sanders said she completely forgot about the books until earlier this year, when the Charlotte Community Library denied her access to their printer due to her overdue books. Sanders found the books, returned them, and expected to get a bill for her tardiness.
Speaking to WILX, she said: “I assumed that they had sent it to collections, and that I would see it on my report, I had no idea that criminal charges were going to be pressed.”
Sanders heard no more about it until more recently, when her boss did a background check before giving her a promotion. It was then she discovered there was a warrant out for her arrest.
“I had to pull over because I started laughing,” recalled Sanders, “and he was like ‘No, I’m serious,’ I was like, ‘There’s no way.'”
The Charlotte Community Library has declined to comment, but did say that it regularly sends out late notices for books that are up to four months late. The library’s director of financial services, Marlena Arras, said to CNN that “there is a lot of information that [Sanders] is not providing.”
Sanders has said that she wouldn’t have received any of the overdue notices because during that time she was trying to escape an abusive relationship and spent time at a woman’s shelter, where it was difficult for her to receive mail.
“Your address is confidential. I had to change my phone number. I had to change my entire life,” she said.
Sanders has said she hopes the court dismisses the case. Her job depends on ir and she’s still not sure whether her promotion will be waiting for her even if the charges are dropped.
“There’s no reason why this needs to be happening. They would’ve had a better chance of getting their money if they would’ve sent me to collections, because I would have known.” She added: “It’s just ridiculous.”
At the time of writing, her next court date is set for today, Nov. 7.