The Medium Security Institution (known as “the Workhouse”) is an obsolescent facility and closing it is both fiscally and morally responsible.
Although the city’s two correctional facilities currently hold more persons than could be held at the City Justice Center alone, a roadmap to closing the Workhouse is achievable. This effort will take leadership and collaboration – across multiple departments and jurisdictions.
First, eliminating pretrial detention for those facing nonviolent charges would significantly reduce the number of beds needed. Second, coordinating with other departments of correction in the region could potentially provide any beds needed beyond what’s available at the Justice Center.
Spending more city resources on stop-gap measures to keep the Workhouse open is not the right answer; implementing a roadmap to close it should be the priority.
I encourage and support the mayor, the director of public safety and the circuit attorney making the necessary changes so that all persons in custody of the City of St. Louis can be housed at the Justice Center or other modern facilities in the region.
Closing the Workhouse is the right thing to do. It is within reach and can be completed in a matter of months, not years, with focus from the administration.