St. Louis Mayor Jones proposes closing The Workhouse in budget

ST. LOUIS – On her first full day in office, St. Louis Mayoress Tishaura Jones took the first step in fulfilling her election promise to close the city’s prison known as The Workhouse.

“Since 2016 I have been calling for the workhouse to be closed due to inhumane conditions including broken plumbing, inadequate medical care, moldy food and contaminated water. Not to mention a toxic culture of abuse, retaliation and neglect among law enforcement officials, “Mayor Jones said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.” The injustice caused by these dehumanizing conditions is compounded by the fact that most urban inmates have not been convicted of any crime with an average stay of more than 300 days. “

In her budget proposal, submitted to the city’s appraisal and apportionment committee, Jones allocated $ 1.4 million to accommodate inmates in other jurisdictions to accommodate populations beyond the capabilities of the downtown Criminal Justice Center go out.

Jones’ budget includes closing The Workhouse or the Medium Security Institution in FY 2022, as well as changing staff and consolidating the correction budget within the correction department according to the proposed budget.

The proposal also provides $ 150,000 for the Planning and Urban Design Agency to begin the process of “Revising the Use of the MSI Facility”.

The proposed budget envisages a reduction of 90 vacancies.

In a press release, Jones predicted that closing the city would save $ 7.8 million and be reallocated as follows:

  • About $ 4 million to balance the city’s budget
  • Approximately $ 2 million for medical services and meals for inmates
  • Approximately $ 1.8 million for the mayor’s priorities, including $ 1.3 million for the Assistive Re-Entry Department, which will assist social workers. $ 300,000 million for doubling the Civilian Oversight Board’s budget to increase the capacity of investigators dealing with retaliation and neglect in St. Louis City prisons; $ 150,000 to help plan community visions related to improvements to the workhouse, city courts, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department headquarters.

Jones, along with activists, has repeatedly called for The Workhouse to be closed for years, stating that conditions at the aging facility are inhumane.

Her predecessor, Mayor Lyda Krewson, spent at least $ 5 million to upgrade several parts of the facility, including the HVAC system and bathrooms, to create single cells instead of double bunks.

The news also comes after several riots that broke out in the city center. Corrections officials have moved dozens of downtown inmates to The Workhouse while repairs were being made to that facility, where inmates attacked a security guard, started fires, flooded some floors, and broken windows.

The average inmate population in the Department of Corrections totaled about 780, which is about 100 fewer than last year when efforts to reduce population began in the face of the pandemic and nearly 400 fewer than the year before the FY2019 pandemic. The need for inmates is projected to remain close to 800 inmates in fiscal 2022.

It is unclear where inmates will be housed once the workhouse closes or when the workhouse will officially close.

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