3rd Man Dies in 6 Weeks at Troubled St. Louis Jail

Juwon Carter had been held at the City Justice Center for 16 months awaiting trial

click to enlarge Juwon Carter died Saturday, September 29. - COURTESY LAWANDA JONES
Juwon Carter died Saturday, September 29.

A 44-year-old man died this morning in the custody of St. Louis' City Justice Center, marking the tenth death of a CJC detainee in the past two years and the third since August 20. 

A spokesperson with the Department of Public Safety confirmed that around 2 a.m. Juwon Carter's cellmate notified jail staff that Carter was experiencing a medical emergency. Corrections officers administered Narcan to Carter “as a precautionary measure" and Carter was taken to a hospital. 

According to the Department of Public Safety, Corrections Commissioner Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah secured a release from a judge so that Carter's family could be with him at the hospital and "make medical decisions." Carter died a few minutes after 10:30 a.m.

Carter's death comes as jail operations in St. Louis city are increasingly drawing criticism. In addition to the deaths, the city jail experienced a hostage situation last month which many said was more akin to a riot. There have also been numerous reports of detainees meeting with their attorneys clothed in only underwear.

“This is the third death in 40 days in this hellhole," oversight board member Mike Milton tells the RFT. "Additionally, Juwon was held in pretrial detention for 16 months, only accused of a crime. This is severe neglect by the circuit attorney's office, the mayor, and the courts."

Milton adds, "They continue to ignore the people’s demands and stonewall Detention Facility Oversight Board. Change is needed now.”

"Ten deaths. Still no acknowledgement of responsibility or plans to change by this administration," Detention Facility Oversight Board member Pamela Walker wrote on Twitter responding to Carter's death.

On Monday, Alderman Rasheen Aldridge joined a growing chorus of activists, members of the jail civilian oversight board and others in calling for Clemons-Abdullah to either resign as the city's corrections head or for Mayor Tishaura Jones to fire her. Previously, Board of Aldermen President Megan Green stated that the jail needed "an immediate change in leadership." However,
the Post-Dispatch reported that Green later walked the comment back, saying that a change in leadership could also mean "hiring experts to help the commissioner."

Jones has remained steadfast in support of Clemons-Abdullah.

Carter had been in the City Justice Center since May of 2022 on involuntary manslaughter charges. According to the Post-Dispatch, Carter was accused of "recklessly" causing the death of his infant son Juwon Carter Jr., for whom Carter was the sole caretaker. The infant died of a seizure disorder in Mary 2021 after Carter claimed to have taken the child in for medical care when he had not. 

In his almost year and a half locked up, Carter had accrued no disciplinary record and regularly worked in the jail's kitchen, the Department of Public Safety said.

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Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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