Getting What You Pay For

Blame for problems at the workhouse goes all the way to the top

The fact that escape-prone inmates are in the workhouse when they'd be less of a risk to the public in Clayton doesn't enter into political and economic equations.

The county is collecting more than $2.9 million a year from city taxpayers for jail space. Staffing and other costs push the price tag above $4 million -- far from a bargain, considering that the deal doesn't increase the number of beds for the city's riskiest prisoners. It's not surprising that the county would want to reduce risks, but prisoners don't stop at the city limits when they break out of the workhouse, where a climb over a 12-foot fence is the last step to freedom.

The St. Louis Medium Security Institution
Jennifer Silverberg
The St. Louis Medium Security Institution

At the county jail, it's a seven-story drop to the ground. No one has escaped from the county hoosegow since it opened in 1998.

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