Skip to Content

Detainees break windows, set fires at Justice Center in downtown St. Louis

Click here for updates on this story

    ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — A group of detainees caused chaos and unrest at the Justice Center in downtown St. Louis Sunday night, the second time such an uprising has occurred in recent months.

Videos from the scene show detainees breaking windows, throwing items out of the windows, and setting items on fire on the third floor of the building. The streets around the Justice Center are closed.

When News 4 crews got to the scene, nearly a dozen inmates were seen yelling out of the third floor windows. Some inmates were demanding hearing dates in their ongoing criminal proceedings. Court proceedings have been delayed in the city due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 60 inmates left their cells, St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts said. Betts said he did not believe any guards were injured but heard a couple of inmates had sustained injuries. The city is without a Director of Public Safety after Judge Jimmie Edward resigned from that post on March 31. Betts said “I guess I am” when asked who was in charge of regaining control of the jail.

A city spokesperson, however, said Deputy Public Safety Director Charlene Deeken is in charge, along with Mayor Lyda Krewson.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m., more than an hour after the uprising began, sheriff’s deputies entered the jail and the situation became seemingly more under control. However, a short time later, detainees began breaking windows again, this time on the other side of the justice center.

A large crowd began forming outside the justice center, many saying they are friends or family of inmates.

A spokesperson for the city told News 4 there were “two violent and dangerous disturbances” at the Justice Center that began in two units on the third floor around 8:30 p.m. He said “detainees became non-compliant, covered security cameras, smashed windows and destroyed property.” There were no reports of anyone being seriously injured, according to the city.

Records show there are 901 inmates at the City Justice Center. Following Sunday night’s incident, a source told News 4 some detainees were transferred to a medium security prison.

Missouri State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, who represents downtown St. Louis put out a statement in support of the detainees inside of the jail.

St. Louis Mayoral Candidate Tishaura Jones also sounded off on Twitter about the incident. She wrote, “there is an immediate need for change in our city’s justice system. Uprisings at our jails should not become the norm, and this is unacceptable.” She also wrote, “We need to get serious about moving pre-trial detainees out of our jails, vaccinating our inmates, and creating a new culture of justice in Saint Louis.”

St. Louis Mayoral Candidate Cara Spencer released the following statement regarding the disturbance:

“Last night marks the 4th serious incident at the CJC in a matter of months. It’s clear that the city is failing to ensure the safety and security of those incarcerated in the city’s care and corrections officers in our incarceration facilities.

As mayor, I will launch a full investigation into the city’s two detention facilities to ensure that staff and the city residents incarcerated there are safe.

New leadership is needed in the post of Public Safety Director and I will make this an immediate priority.

I remain committed to closing the city’s other detention facility called the Workhouse. Recognizing this plan will obviously have to include competent and humane administration of the CJC as well, this will take a thoughtful and realistic plan – and I am prepared to lead this effort in an expedient manner while putting safety and well-being first.

Recognizing that those held at CJC are housed under the recommendations of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardener and the US attorney, I will work with her office, public defenders, judges and federal system. We must work through the backlog of cases to ensure that those at both city incarceration facilities move as quickly as possible, to put an end to cash bail for low level offenses and to house those necessary with the dignity and safety and that all human beings deserve.”

The incident comes two months after a similar disturbance. In that incident, city officials say detainees were able manipulate locks.

Detainees have complained for decades about conditions inside St. Louis’ jails, but when COVID-19 worries were added to the mix, the tension reached breaking point. In the predawn hours of Feb. 6, 117 inmates at the downtown City Justice Center broke free from their cells. They smashed windows, set fires and tossed chairs, a filing cabinet and other items through the broken glass onto the street four stories below. A corrections officer was briefly hospitalized.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content