City Jails | St. Louis Public Radio

City Jails

People inside the Workhouse look out as protesters face off with St. Louis police officers. July 21, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution, also known as the Workhouse, has been the target of protests and lawsuits for years, including for its lack of air conditioning during the recent record-breaking heat.

While the city brought in temporary air conditioning units Monday, providing what city engineers said would be the ability to “sustain a temperature of 78 degrees inside the dorms,” the events sparked several questions. Here are some important facts about the Workhouse and the regulations it must adhere to.

Protesters push and lift one of the fences surrounding the St. Louis Medium Security Institution. (July 22, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated July 24 at 2:15 p.m. information on arrests — Amid continued protests during this week's heat wave, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Saturday that the city is ordering portable air conditioning units to be installed "as soon as possible" at the Medium Security Institution. Inside the facility, which is also known as the Workhouse, many inmates are live in quarters without air conditioning as temperatures soar above 100 degrees. 

The majority of people housed at the Medium Security Institution in St. Louis do not have air conditioning. (July 19, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:40 p.m. with state representative's request — Activists say this week’s near-record heat is dangerous for inmates at St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution and is one more reason the jail needs to be shut down.

The majority of the 700 inmates at the jail, also known as the Workhouse, live in portions that don’t have air conditioning, St. Louis corrections commissioner Dale Glass said. Temperatures are routinely 5 to 10 degrees warmer inside the 51-year-old building than outside; activists allege that’s another violation of inmates’ rights.

Medium Security Institution/file photo
File photo | Nassim Benchaabane | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation that would give St. Louis a clearer picture of who's being held in solitary confinement in the city's two jails will be introduced Thursday at the Board of Aldermen.

Joe Vacarro, D-23rd Ward, said he saw the need for more information about the inmate population while campaigning for sheriff this year. 

Former St. Louis corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield and his attorney at a 2011 hearing of the city's public safety committee
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri appeals court has upheld the 2011 firing of the city’s former corrections commissioner, Eugene Stubblefield.

The Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the July 16, 2014, opinion of Judge Robert Dierker without making its reasoning public. Dierker had ruled there was plenty of evidence that the city of St. Louis had just cause to let Stubblefield go.

Former St. Louis corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield and his attorney at a 2011 hearing of the city's public safety committee
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The fate of the city of St. Louis 's former corrections commissioner is now in the hands of Judge Robert Dierker.

Former St. Louis corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield and his attorney at a 2011 hearing of the city's public safety committee
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 1:00 p.m. with comments from the city.

The former corrections commissioner for the city of St. Louis has sued over his firing, claiming it was racially motivated.

Gene Stubblefield filed the suit today. He was fired Dec. 11, a decision upheld last month by the city's Civil Service Commission, whose members are the plaintiffs.

Former St. Louis corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield and his attorney at a 2011 hearing of the city's public safety committee
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis city Civil Service Commission has upheld the dismissal of former city corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Guards charged with assault for inmate fight

Two guards at the medium security jail in St. Louis City are facing burglary and assault charges for allegedly arranging to have one inmate at the workhouse beat up another.

(via Flickr/neil conway)

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the city of St. Louis, asking a judge to make the city turn over jail records related to inmate grievances.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the suit filed Wednesday accuses the city's corrections division of ignoring repeated requests over the past four months for records under the Missouri Sunshine Law.

The suit seeks an injunction forcing release of the records. It also asks the judge to find the city in violation of the law and to impose civil penalties.

Nate Birt | Provided

The St. Louis County Public Works department is asking the County Council for permission to use more than $394,000 in unspent funds to make emergency repairs to the roof of the county jail.

Public works spokesman David Wrone says a hailstorm last spring punched pin-sized holes in the membrane of the roof. Resulting water leaks damaged mechanical and electrical equipment, as well as left some day rooms and cells on the 8th floor unusable.

Former St. Louis corrections commissioner Gene Stubblefield and his attorney at a 2011 hearing of the city's public safety committee
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The highest-ranking city official to face discipline so far for problems at the St. Louis jails spent four hours under oath today, giving his perspective on the situation that led to four escapes in 15 months.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The head of the public safety department of the city of St. Louis spent nearly two hours on the hot seat today, facing questions under oath about the management of the two jails under his control.

A preliminary review of the St. Louis corrections department finds "numerous weaknesses" in the management, physical structure and operations of the two jails the department oversees.

Six inmates have escaped from the facilities in the last 15 months. Three of the four escapes took place within five months of each other.

(via Flickr/abardwell)

The former head of the jail in rural Washington County, Mo. will spend 10 years in federal prison and three more on supervised release for violating the civil rights of four inmates housed in his jail.

A jury convicted Vernon Wilson in March of beating two inmates and arranging for the beating of two others. One victim of those orchestrated beatings, who was in the jail on a bad check charge, had to be hospitalized.

(via Flickr/neil conway)

A law enforcement group is supporting legislation to address a backlog of jail inmates waiting to be transferred to crowded state psychiatric facilities.

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The St. Louis City Justice Center

Talks between the American Civil Liberties Union and the city of St. Louis on an independent panel to oversee the city's jails have stalled.

The talks were prompted by a 2009 ACLU report that alleged abuse and medical neglect at the city's Medium Security Institution (more commonly known as the city workhouse) and at the higher-security City Justice Center.