Melinda Sanders-Jones had already returned the overdue library books when she discovered there was a warrant for her arrest for failing to return them.
But prosecutors are moving forward with the case against her anyway, apparently to set an example to other citizens with overdue books.
After all, prosecutors say, the mother of five children went two years without returning the books, ignoring notices that had been sent to her home from the Charlotte Community Library in Michigan.
But Sanders-Jones said she never received the notices because she moved several times over the past two years to escape an abusive relationship, including having to live in a shelter for battered women at one point. She said she also had to change her phone number.
She said she only learned of the overdue books a few months ago when she was prevented from using a library printer because she had failed to return the books. She said she called her fiance who confirmed the two books were sitting on her son’s bookshelf so she quickly returned them.
She only learned of the arrest warrant last month because she was up for a promotion at her job which required her employer to conduct a background search on her.
According to WILX:
“My boss called me on Tuesday to inform me that I had warrant and I had to pull over because I started laughing and he was like ‘no, I’m serious.’ And I was like, no, there’s no way,” Sanders said.
News 10 called the Charlotte Library to try and get some answers. They said they can’t comment on individual cases, but told said late notices go out after a few weeks, a month, three months, and again at four months. But Sanders never got them, because she was moving a lot while trying to get out of an abusive relationship.
“Any mail that was there, I didn’t get,” she explained. “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.”
After a court date, getting fingerprinted, and a whole lot of anxiety, Sanders is stuck waiting for her next court date, and hoping the charges get dropped.
The charge she is facing is failure to return rental property which carries a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail as well as a $500 fine.
The overdue books were Where the Sidewalk Ends, a children’s book of poetry, and Night, a book about the Holocaust.