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Elected leaders tour St. Louis jails, Mayor Jones reaffirms plan to close the Workhouse

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    ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOV) — Newly elected St. Louis mayor Tishaura Jones led a group of elected leaders on a tour of the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) and the Medium Security Institution, known as the Workhouse, on Saturday. The group emerged from the Workhouse and had harsh criticism for the living conditions.

“We were very disappointed shocked and frustrated by what we saw,” said Jones.

Congresswoman Cori Bush was also on the tour.

“The utter filth, the trash, the bugs,” she said.

Jones pledged to close the Workhouse in her first 100 days. This week, she presented her budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1 and had no funding in it for the Workhouse. The budget diverts some of the jail’s budget toward supportive programs to help detainees reenter society.

“And we don’t need two jails. We need to move people through the system, we need to find alternatives to jails for some of the offenses,” said Jones.

On the tour of the city’s downtown jail, Jones said they saw a floor that had new locks. The city plans to spend $13.5 million dollars to replace locks that inmates were able to manipulate before unrest. After the tour, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gardner said the local criminals justice system was broken.

“So, I look forward to the criminal justice ecosystem coming together and having real conversations on the complexities of this problem. But it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s not going to change overnight,” Gardner said.

Bush said she understands that jails aren’t hotels, but that detainees still need to be treated with dignity and respect. Jones said she had a personal connection to the issue.

“People deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. As the daughter of someone who was incarcerated, this is personal for me,” said Jones.

It’s unclear where the detainees at the Workhouse will go when it closes. Earlier this week, a spokesman for St. Louis County Executive Sam Page told News 4 that there wasn’t any room at the county jail because the inmate population was 300 higher this year.

When Jones was asked where the detainees will be moved, she said she was still working on it.

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