St. Louis County has suspended three jail employees following the death of a fourth inmate this year.
Daniel Stout died last week, hours after being transferred to the state prison in Bonne Terre. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported he was denied medical care while at the jail.
The suspensions were part of a series of changes in the Department of Justice Services that St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced Tuesday.
“I think we should recognize that the Justice Services operation isn’t where we want it to be,” Page told reporters after a meeting of the St. Louis County Council. “But I think over the past three or four weeks we’ve made a lot of changes that have had a positive impact.”
In addition to disciplining staffers who “didn’t perform appropriately or up to our standards,” Page said, his administration has ordered more communication between guards and nurses, and has put new health care policies into place.
Employees who don’t follow procedure should be punished, Page said.
“But a mistake that’s made isn’t always a human error,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a process error. And if we can institute new procedures and new policies that make it more difficult for a human error to occur, then we’ve done something positive.”
In addition to the new procedures, Page said he’ll name his appointees to the Justice Services Advisory Board this week. He also plans to open a nationwide search for a new jail director, a post that’s been filled by an interim leader, St. Louis County Police Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, since late April.
Page’s remarks drew a round of applause from audience members, including Tashonda Troupe, whose son, Lamar Catchings, died in March of undiagnosed leukemia while an inmate.
Prosecutors did not file charges in his death, or those of two other inmates. Troupe, though, said she was happy that employees faced discipline after Stout’s death.
“To tell an inmate, 'No, you can’t have medical care,' and this is your job? That was absurd to me. And I just didn’t understand how you would continue to allow them to stay there,” she said.
Troupe has questioned in the past whether jail guards followed procedure on the day her son died.
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