Dale Glass, St. Louis commissioner of corrections, is leaving his job at the end of the month.
The head of St. Louis' jails is resigning as controversies over conditions
at the city's two facilities rage.
City Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass will leave his post at the end of the month, Mayor Tishaura Jones announced this morning. Glass was not asked to resign, according to a news release, but Jones has made it clear she isn't happy with his work.
“Failed leadership overseeing the City’s Corrections division has left the City with a huge mess to clean up," Jones said in the release. "Between failing locks, lackluster maintenance, and subhuman conditions for the detainees under our care, it only further justifies my promise to shut down the Workhouse within my first 100 days."
The city's jails have long been a flashpoint between advocates for criminal justice reform and past administrations. The Workhouse, the 55-year-old jail officially named the Medium Security Institution, attracted most of the attention due to notoriously hellish conditions, including extreme temperatures and reports of violence, nearly inedible food, black mold and pests.
Former Mayor Lyda Krewson had standalone air-conditioning units
installed in 2017 after videos of detainees screaming out of the windows
for relief from dangerously hot temperatures went viral online.
The city started to empty the Workhouse in 2020 after organizations, such as the Bail Project and Action STL along with public defenders and prosecutors worked to get people out of city jails during the pandemic. St. Louis aldermen had voted to close the aging facility by the end of December, but that plan was delayed and the Workhouse population began to increase again, particularly after inmates involved in multiple uprisings at the City Justice Center, the newer jail downtown, were moved there.
See Also: St. Louis Inmates Take Over Units After Weeks of Complaints
The protests at CJC added pressure on city leaders — and Glass — to address complaints inside the facilities, particularly as they related to allegations of woefully inadequate COVID-19 protections. In two separate revolts this year, detainees took over units inside CJC, smashed windows, set fires and shouted out to people on the street about long-delayed court hearings and inhumane conditions. Among the revelations was that locks at CJC didn't necessarily lock and detainees could exit their cells as they wished.
Under Krewson's administration, officials pushed back on claims that the jails were filthy and unsafe. Now-former Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards told reporters
after an uprising in January the incident was not a protest but a random spasm of chaos carried out by violent, opportunistic inmates who jumped in during a confrontation between a detainee and a corrections officer.
But advocates for those locked away in city jails have said the complaints about conditions spiked during the pandemic, flooding in for weeks before the protests.
Jones has promised to close the Workhouse and address issues at CJC. She and Congresswoman Cori Bush, along with attorneys and activists, toured the jails last month and spoke to those locked up inside. Jones and Bush described horrid conditions when they emerged.
“The deplorable conditions we witnessed inside the City Justice Center and the Workhouse made clear that the City of St. Louis is in desperate need of new leadership in its corrections department," Bush said today in a written statement. "No human being should be forced to live in a place littered with trash and feces or eat food that is an unidentifiable mush. No human being should be forced to shower with moldy water or have their health put at risk by an uncontrolled infectious disease outbreak. No human being should be caged for weeks and months on end with little certainty of when and if they’ll ever see their family again."
reporter Danny Wicentowski was at the Workhouse today when news of Glass' resignation was announced but has not been able to speak with him. We'll update this story if that changes.
Jones says the city is looking to replace Glass.
"We look forward to bringing effective leadership into the Corrections division that can account for these issues and raise the bar on effective management and oversight of the City Justice Center.”
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