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New panels to help monitor city jails

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Board of Aldermen's public safety committee has recommended the creation of two new panels to provide additional "eyes" on the city's two jails, following a March report by the American Civil Liberties Union that accused corrections officials of covering up widespread assaults, sexual misconduct, and poor health care at the jails.

One panel will review the ACLU report and suggest policy changes; the other, more permanent panel would review any future complaints made by inmates. The ACLU, the corrections officers, and the public safety department will help select panel members.

"These are fair recommendations," said public safety director Charles Bryson. "We have to get past this he-said, she-said, throwing things out in the papers. Let's sit down, let's discuss the issues, and let's try to get them resolved."

The ACLU had also asked the Board of Aldermen to fire corrections superintendent Gene Stubblefield.

"We think there needs to be a breath of fresh air at the institution, and we're not sure that we'll be able to get to the bottom of what's actually been happening unless there's a new administration in place," said ACLU program director John Chasnoff. Some aldermen seemed to support Chasnoff's suggestion, but lawmakers do not have hiring and firing authority.


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