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St. Louis Inmates Take Over Units After Weeks of Complaints 

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Mayor Lyda Krewson on Monday discusses the jail revolt with reporters. - LYDA KREWSON
  • LYDA KREWSON
  • Mayor Lyda Krewson on Monday discusses the jail revolt with reporters.

On Monday, Mayor Lyda Krewson announced a new corrections task force would review St. Louis' jail operations following the recent uprisings.

She was joined at a news conference in the City Justice Center by Edwards and corrections Commissioner Dale Glass, who disputed accusations that conditions at the jail were anything but professionally, humanely run. Glass said inmates are given a weekly care package that includes four masks along with hygiene products to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. He also denied complaints that inmates are held in freezing conditions and without access to proper health care or nutritious food. All the meal plans are reviewed by a dietician, Glass said as he tried to strike down allegations, and he ultimately approves them, often with inmate input.

"They're being fed," the commissioner said. "That's not a problem."

Glass and the city officials spent much of the news conference fending off questions about malfunctioning locks in the jail — a detail that had unsurprisingly captured significant public, or at least media, interest but had little to do with inmates' concerns. Glass said there had been some issues with the computerized locks in the past and they thought they had been resolved. They were working on solving the issue now, he added.

A photo of the video live feed showing the fourth floor of the City Justice Center on Monday. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • A photo of the video live feed showing the fourth floor of the City Justice Center on Monday.

But as to the complaints from inmates, Glass seemed to see little room for improvement within jail operations. He spent time going point by point, arguing that the detainees' complaints were not the glaring issues that advocates for the inmates had made them out to be.

Edwards and Krewson pointed out that one of the main complaints — the excessive length of time people languish inside while awaiting resolutions of their cases — are ultimately out of the city's hands. It is the judges who decide who is detained and how soon their cases are heard. Edwards described the city's role in the judicial process as that of a "landlord" who is entrusted to keep the inmates safe. In that regard, he said the city is doing a good job.

Asked if there were any concerns raised by inmates that the city considered legitimate, Krewson said the new task force would review and assess all the facts. The task force will be chaired by former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Wolff and a number of heavy hitters, including newly former, but still fiercely outspoken state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed.

Krewson said she and other officials believe "we run a very good operation here," but acknowledged that not all agree. That's why she's created the task force, she said.

"I understand the public and maybe even some of the media may not believe what we tell you, so let's have a very-well-respected, quick-moving task force to confirm that or not," Krewson said. "Otherwise, detainees say one thing, and [St. Louis Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass] and his people say another thing."

Their work begins this week.


We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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