Mary Pat Carl | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Pat Carl

Activists with the Close the Workhouse campaign call on Mayor Lyda Krewson to close down the jail as she arrives for a segment on St. Louis on the Air.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

What started out as a viral video exposing the poor conditions detainees were facing inside St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution — also known as the Workhouse — has turned into a three-year-long effort to shut it down. In 2017, activists and civil rights organizations Action St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders and Bail Project St. Louis began pursuing calls to action to close it. 

The facility largely houses people who have not been convicted of a crime and cannot afford bail. Conditions inside have reportedly included black mold, dangerously high and low temperatures, moldy food and “rats as big as cats.” 

The city has since invested in renovating the facility, but this week, the Close the Workhouse campaign announced its relaunch with a newly updated report. And now, it has a new ally.

Inez Bordeaux, an organizer with Close the Workhouse, present's the group's new report during a press conference at City Hall on Jan. 14, 2020.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Four activist groups say they have found a way to close the St. Louis jail known as the Workhouse by the end of this year.

The Close the Workhouse campaign unveiled its plan on Tuesday. The groups behind it say their research shows all of the people accused of state crimes could be held safely at the downtown Criminal Justice Center.

Come January, there will be a new prosecutor in the city of St. Louis for the first time in 16 years.

The election to replace Jennifer Joyce as circuit attorney comes as the city is struggling to get homicides and other violent crime under control. Relations between law enforcement and some communities remain strained as well, with Joyce herself having been the target of protests.

Patrick Hamacher (standing) addresses a crowd gathered at Saint Louis University on June 18, 2016 for a forum with the Democratic candidates for circuit attorney.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

A two-hour debate about the root causes of crime and disparities in the system helped some St. Louis voters better understand the Democratic candidates for circuit attorney.

Mary Pat Carl, Kimberly Gardner, Patrick Hamacher and Steve Harmon gathered Saturday for the forum, sponsored by Decarcerate St. Louis.

Mary Pat Carl
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome circuit attorney contender Mary Pat Carl to the program.

Carl is one of four candidates running to succeed Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, who is not running for re-election. We taped shows with all four circuit attorney candidates last week, and we are posting the shows throughout this week.