When asked on Monday who should be accountable for Sunday’s jail uprising downtown, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said first and foremost, accountability lands on the inmates.
“Well certainly — who should be held accountable for that? First of all, the detainees,” Krewson said when asked.
In a follow up question on whether jailers should be held accountable for allowing the uprising to take place by not replacing faulty cell locks, Krewson said: “Sure, absolutely. And as everybody has said we are working very … hard to get those replaced.”
As was the case in February, they said locks in the jail were easily jimmied — which is how the inmates were able to gain control of the third floor of the jail.
Replacing those locks will cost the city about $13.5 million, according to Rich Bradley, president of the Board of Public Service. He said while the project has gotten underway, it takes time because it’s more than just a lock to replace — it includes replacing things like the door and frame itself.
All of the jail’s locks should be replaced by May.
Krewson and members of her administration made these comments at the City Justice Center on Monday morning, about 15 hours after inmates took over both the north and south side of the third floor of the City Justice Center jail.
Dale Glass, St. Louis corrections commissioner, said that in addition to replacing the locks, the jail has just hired 20 new staff members and is in the process of hiring 30 more.
He confirmed that three to four inmates suffered minor cuts but no one else was injured in the uprising. He said they were still conducting an investigation into how many inmates participated in Sunday’s protest — but noted that not all of the unit’s inmates were involved.
In his opening remarks, Glass called attention to the community support the inmates have received.
“One of the things that concerns me in these types of situations is when the first events happened, we the public appeared to be condoning or justifying or lending cause to their behavior,” Glass said. “And I’m not judgmental about that issue, but I would say it has a tendency to embolden.”
After the February uprising, Krewson created a task force to investigate the jail’s conditions.
They presented a list of recommendations just over two weeks ago — over 60 in total, but 13 they consider matters of urgency.
The task force’s chairman is The Rev. Darryl Gray, a local criminal justice activist. He says the task force was allowed into the City Justice Center and found that one of the main issues facing inmates is that they are only allowed out of their cells for one hour a day to shower, make phone calls and participate in other activities.
The 13 urgent recommendations included things such as increasing dayroom recreation, implementing tablets for virtual visitation, upgrading the electronic security system and constructing maximum security gates, auditing the length of stay of current detainees and creating a civilian oversight board for the corrections division — that being the task force’s highest priority issue, according to Gray.
Glass addressed what the jail has done to address those 13 recommendations since — saying some of the allegations of mistreatment weren’t true.
“We weren’t mistreating them, it wasn’t cold, they were fed, they had clothes, they were being treated for COVID,” Glass said.
He said the jail has continued with COVID-19 testing and identified 65 people that were in high-risk health categories. Thirty of those people who were willing to be vaccinated were. The health department was also provided a list of 160 inmate names who are willing to be vaccinated on April 9 when all adults are eligible.Glass said they are also working to increase inmates’ recreation time and resuming programming. They have reinitiated inmate family visits as of last Monday, he said.
“Basically, this occurred, we addressed it and we continue to improve upon the issues so that it doesn’t occur again,” Glass said