ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – One day after unrest at the City Justice Center, some are worried that another uprising will occur unless proposed changes are put into place quickly.
A group of detainees caused chaos and unrest at the Justice Center in downtown St. Louis Sunday night, the second time such an uprising has occurred in recent months.
A group detainees caused unrest and chaos at the Justice Center Sunday night, breaking windows, tossing items out of windows and setting items on fire. The incident came two months after a similar disturbance. After that incident, a corrections task force was formed to investigate. The task force came up with 68 recommendations and presented them to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office. One member of that panel says those ideas have not been implemented quickly enough.
“Are we waiting for somebody to die? Or for somebody to be critically injured before we do the right thing?” said Corrections Task Force Member Darryl Gray. “I am frustrated that they have not been implemented with the pace and urgency that those of us on the Task Force thought was going to happen.”
Topping the list of recommendations is fixing faulty locks and giving detainees more recreation time and visitor hours. Gray also suggests implementing an oversight committee. Members would serve as a voice for detainees and staff members, ensuring their voices are heard.
“You talk to some of the older detainees, they say these are younger detainees, they haven’t done time before, so they have this energy. They’re excited, you have Easter and they can’t see their families, they can’t get to court, this is going to happen,” Gray said.
7th Ward Alderman and former Assistant Circuit Attorney Jack Coatar says the facility is not safe enough to hold inmates accused of serious crimes.
“It is embarrassing once again, we’re going to be on the national news for a jail uprising,” Coatar said. “It doesn’t appear the City Justice Center can safely hold inmates. Based on what we saw last night and what we’ve seen in recent weeks, the inmates appear to be running the place.”
Coatar says leaders at the Justice Center can start by not housing detainees in cells where the locks do not work. For the time being, he believes detainees should be transferred to the Medium Security Institution on Hall Street (also known as The Workhouse). Monday, the St. Louis Corrections Commissioner says his team is already working on many of the recommendations put forward, including allowing in-person visits, which started last Monday.
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