HOUSTON (AP) — Harris County officials are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that would allow the release of dozens of misdemeanor offenders from the county jail who are unable to afford bail.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal earlier ruled the prisoners can be released on personal bond. A federal appeals court upheld that decision Tuesday. County officials then went to the Supreme Court to halt the ruling.

Two civil rights groups and a Houston law firm sued the county last year after a woman was jailed for two days for driving without a valid license because she couldn't afford $2,500 bail.

They argue poor offenders are unfairly incarcerated while awaiting trial.

Up to 177 inmates could be released but a sheriff's spokesman says it would likely be fewer.

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