Mum of five faces three months jail time for two overdue library books

Photo: GoFundMe
Photo: GoFundMe 

Melinda Sanders-Jones faces up to 93 days in jail and a $730 fine - for failing to return two library books.

According to the Lansing State Journal, the US mum of five checked out Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and Elie Wiesel's The Night Trilogy on a visit to Charlotte Community Library in Michigan in 2017.

Ms Sanders-Jones, 27, who works as a security guard, said she didn't receive the overdue notices from the library because she was in the midst of escaping an abusive relationship, which required constant house moves with her children in tow.

"Any mail that was there, I didn't get. Soon I ended in the Siren Shelter that's here in Charlotte that helps with domestic violence victims and your address is confidential. I had to change my phone number... I had to change my entire life," she told WILX.

She only discovered last week there was a warrant issued two years ago for her arrest. Her boss was conducting a standard background check for a promotion she had applied for and uncovered the warrant. 

"My boss called me on Tuesday to inform me that I had a warrant and I had to pull over because I started laughing," she recounted, "And he was like 'No, I'm serious.' And I was like, no, there's no way, there's no way I have a warrant."

She said, "This is kind of extreme for two library books. I work full-time and I'm a mum. I'm the head of my household. I can't afford to take off work for two library books."

Ms Sanders-Jones only remembered the books after being told she could not use the library printer because of the overdue items, which had completely slipped her mind. They were found on her son's bookshelf and returned at that time, six months ago.

She said she's shocked about the extreme response to two missing books, saying, "I had no idea that criminal charges would be pressed."

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"The fact that a prosecuting attorney had this on his desk and decided that me having two library books out was enough to issue a warrant for my arrest, that's what concerns me," Jones told the Lansing State Journal.

"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," she said.

Her employer has had to suspend her until the matter is resolved, prompting the mum to set up a GoFundMe for $730 so she can pay the fine.

She wrote, "My family and I are struggling at the moment. Any little bit helps but we need help. I never thought something like this would ever happen. I'm still completely floored and i just want to keep my job."

"It's just ridiculous," she said. "Like, there is no reason that this needs to be happening. Like I said, they would have had a better chance of getting their money if they would have sent it to collections... because I would have known."

She is currently waiting on her second court date.

Photo: GoFundMe

Photo: GoFundMe