The attorney for the South Carolina mother of a missing child believes that a judge is refusing to reduce his client's bail as punishment for her not speaking with police.
Richland County Judge Casey Manning denied on Tuesday a request to lower the $150,000 bail for Zinah Jennings, the pregnant and mentally unstable mother of missing toddler Amir Jennings. She's been charged with child neglect and held since December in the county jail in Columbia.
"They are really holding the mother hostage until they can find the child," Jenning's lawyer Hemphill Pride II told The Huffington Post.
Pride believes that Jennings, thought to be the last person to have seen the child, should be released so she can receive proper prenatal care and psychological attention, according to the Associated Press.
But police say that Jennings fabricated multiple stories about her son -- who has been missing since Thanksgiving -- before she clammed up. Authorities say she would be a flight risk if released.
"The missing child creates a very volatile kind of atmosphere in the community," Pride said. "There is great hysteria over the child being gone, and I think that had an impact on the court's decision."
Pride, says that his 22-year-old client is exercising her right to remain silent, given the combative atmosphere.
After appearing in court earlier in the week, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott said Tuesday that the search for Amir Jennings will not conclude until authorities locate the boy or uncover what happened to him, according to CNN.