Board: Not Enough Room For St. Louis Inmates At County Jail

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — An advisory board for the St. Louis County Jail is warning that the facility doesn’t have enough room to take inmates from a long-criticized city jail known as the workhouse.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Mayor Tishaura Jones has promised to close the city jail, whose formal name is the Medium Security Institution. It is one of two in the city.

But members of the oversight panel said the county jail, which is located in the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, has too many detainees and too few employees to safely take on some of the overflow, as city officials had proposed.

The county jail’s population grew about 40% over the last year, largely driven by spikes in the number of pre-trial detainees whose court hearings were put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, Acting Director Doug Burris said at the advisory board meeting Friday.

It now houses about 1,000 detainees out of a capacity of about 1,283. The workhouse currently houses 331 inmates.

Meanwhile, the county jail has struggled to recruit qualified applicants to fill about 45 long-vacant positions for correctional officers, Burris said.

Spokesmen for both Jones and County Executive Sam Page said Tuesday there have been no further talks about housing city inmates in the county.