A year ago, Dora Schriro appeared to be on the ropes. Ousted as director of the Missouri Department of Corrections and stymied in attempts for top posts in Idaho and Texas, Schriro returned to St. Louis in 2001 for what is surely one of the worst jobs in the jail biz: running the city's sorry corrections division. The job wasn't new to Schriro, who had headed the city workhouse before moving to the state in 1993. But that was a long time ago. With the city's old maximum-security jail closed and a new one under construction, Schriro in November 2001 returned to a crumbling, understaffed workhouse that was crammed to the rafters. Tellingly, a string of inmate suicides that had begun in 1999 ended the day before she showed up for work. Schriro also managed to get the new jail open on time, greatly reducing pressure on the workhouse while getting the city out of an expensive contract with the county to provide jail beds while the new facility was being built. There were escapes, and inmates were mistakenly released under Schriro's watch. But she had the guts to take the heat, accepting a two-week suspension after five inmates walked away unnoticed less than six months into her tenure. Then she built a case to fire front-line supervisors previous administrators had kept on despite years of lax security and deplorable living conditions. Finally, early this year Schriro made her own escape, moving to Arizona to take the top corrections job for that state.