The St. Louis County Department of Justice Services is in charge of the jail’s overall administration, operation, and security. The St. Louis County Center has faced issues that have hampered its functioning and resulted in various issues, such as inmate unrest and protests. Here is more information for the St Louis County Justice Center.
The St. Louis Justice Center is currently dealing with one major issue: court case delays. According to the latest figures from the city’s court system, felony cases in the City’s Circuit Court docket lasted an average of just over 11 months to go to trial or be settled at the end of 2020. Owing to the ongoing pandemic, which has placed constraints on state courts, the schedule has expanded to just less than 15 months, as of April 1. One of the difficulties at the St. Louis County Department of Justice Centre, according to Doug Burris, the acting director of the county’s Department of Justice Services, is delayed court dates and terrible amenities inside the facility. This has resulted in recent riots on several occasions.
According to Doug Burris, other challenges include a lack of competent leadership, insufficient staff, underpaying employees, and a lack of adequate support, and that is why he turned to the St. Louis County Council for additional help. To attract more individuals to the position, he’s seeking a $2 per hour boost for correction officers. They’re seeking people to fill 65 positions and there haven’t been many candidates for the recent big hiring events.
At the justice center, inmate protests over COVID-19 protocols are also a serious issue. During a news conference, Tracy Stanton, an activist with the city’s branch of Ex-incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO), said, “They (inmates) are seeking proper heat, proper [personal protection equipment], proper clothing, and proper visits from their families.” During the epidemic, there have been several rallies within the City Justice Center amid complaints about detention conditions and delayed trials. Many detainees have been waiting months for their cases to be heard by the courts. Detainees broke out of their cells, destroyed jail windows, and lit fires in three consecutive uprisings at the downtown jail this year.
Inmates escaping their cells, damaging windows, and hurling goods into the street in downtown St. Louis, according to city administrators, may have been caused by a malfunctioning cell locking mechanism that has plagued operations at the City Justice Center for years. Krewson convened the Corrections Task Force in February, a group of city and civic leaders who produced a report on March 12, pushing for jail improvements, including the need for increased security.
According to the report, understaffing is another major security issue. Based on the assessment, there were 88 job openings at the jail, resulting in serious staffing issues, likely necessitating wage increases to recruit and retain workers. Members of the Corrections Task Force claimed that circumstances at the jail are a fundamental cause of the recent disruptions, in addition to a lack of security. “We discovered there is a problem with treating people decently,” stated 23rd Ward Alderman Joe Vaccaro. Other severe limitations, like the prohibition of family visits and strict limits on recreation time that keep offenders in their cells for most of the day, were some of the inhumane complaints raised by the inmates to the task force.
The task group has concentrated on three critical areas: resolving delays in the 22nd Circuit Court that result in extended pretrial detention stays, addressing issues about jail facilities, and reviewing the condition and security of the 20-year-old facility that can accommodate over 900 inmates. According to Glass, the jail has already started implementing several of the task force’s recommendations, including immunizing inmates against COVID-19, expanding recreation time, and resuming visits last week. Glass also stated that by May, he had hoped to have tablets for the jail that will allow detainees to have virtual visits with family and friends.
The task force recommended an independent monitoring board with “complete access” with inmates and employees, as well as more jail staffing, but this would require Board of Aldermen approval. On several occasions, a jail’s deteriorating conditions have created lots of tension and unrest among inmates. However, with a solid plan on how to increase the number of officers assigned to the jail, pay them better, and enhance the living conditions of the facility, the St. Louis Justice Center could be on its way to becoming one of the best jails in the U.S.
So, while the COVID-19 pandemic affected virtually every sector of the economy, the pandemic seemed to have hit the St. Louis Justice Center a little bit more than others. With minor improvements to enhance the facility’s operations, some of the problems currently experienced could go away sooner.