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City responds to ACLU jail report

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The director of the St. Louis Public Safety department went in front of the aldermanic committee that oversees public safety issues Tuesday to answer questions about an American Civil Liberties Union report on conditions at the city's two jails.

The ACLU released an initial report at the end of March, based on two years on interviews with six current and former correctional officers, that alleges widespread cover-ups of assault, sexual misconduct, and poor medical care. Eight more corrections officers have come forward since then, though only one has been identified publicly.

Director Charles Bryson would not respond to specific allegations made in the report because of the possibility of federal investigations of the Criminal Justice Center in downtown St. Louis and the city's medium security facility on Hall Street.

"I do not take the ACLU report at face value, but I take it to heart, because somebody somewhere has been aggrieved," he said. "I invite the ACLU to sit at the table and work with me to set up a method to review all current and former resident complaints, to the extent possible we can explore ways to make our facilities one that we can all be proud of."

The jails undergo at least six local and federal inspections a year, and Bryson said aldermen are welcome to make surprise visits to either facility. He was not aware of any active federal investigation prompted by the latest report, but said he would not be surprised if one occurred, because the Criminal Justice Center houses federal inmates under contract.


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