St. Louis Public Radio News
1:17 pm
Thu June 24, 2010

Slay to ask Missouri Dept. of Corrections for help in investigating jail break

St. Louis – Mayor Francis Slay has asked the Missouri Department of Corrections to help evaluate security measures at the city's medium security jail after two teenage inmates escaped early Wednesday.

"Believe me, we're going to get to the bottom of it," Slay said. "We're going to correct the situation, and if there are personnel disciplinary issues that need to be done, we're going to do that."

The two 17-year-olds - Eric Gray, who is charged with murder and Kurt Wallace, who faces assault charges - flooded toilets in their cells, then escaped when a prison guard who was supposed to be observing the clean-up took a bathroom break. They were captured later in the evening in a vacant house about five miles away. Both were certified to stand trial as adults.

Slay was furious about the escape, which was not reported to police for several hours.

"This was either gross incompetence, or there was some cooperation by jail personnel to make this happen," he said. He also wanted to know why Gray, the accused murderer, was at the medium security facility.

This is not the first problem at the city's jails. Three guards pleaded guilty last year to attempting to smuggle heroin into the maximum security jail in downtown. And a report by the American Civil Liberties Union alleged widespread abuse at both facilities.