Thursday, October 18, 2018
Close  
  • share this

Lawsuit cites ‘inhumane’ conditions in St. Louis jail

/ 10:10 AM November 14, 2017

In this July 24, 2017 photo, inmates watch the arrival of temporary air conditioning units from TempAir at the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, popularly known as the Workhouse. A lawsuit filed on Monday, November 13, 2017, alleges inmates at the medium-security jail in St. Louis live in “inhumane conditions” that include rodent feces in food, infestations of bugs and snakes, and unbearable overcrowding. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

ST. LOUIS — A lawsuit has alleged that inmates at a medium-security jail in St. Louis live in “inhumane conditions” that include rodent feces in food, infestations of bugs and snakes, and unbearable overcrowding.

The non-profit ArchCity Defenders filed on Monday the federal lawsuit on behalf of seven former inmates seeking monetary damages and closure of the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, known as the Workhouse.

ADVERTISEMENT

The St. Louis mayor’s office said the jail is inspected multiple times a year by the city Health Department and problems are addressed as they arise. Spokesman Koran Addo said preventative maintenance is also regularly conducted at the jail, which opened in the 1960s.

Among those filing suit was 43-year-old James Cody of Jefferson City, who was jailed for eight months this year on a probation violation. He said he often found mouse feces in cake served at the jail. Jail staff would simply scrape off the feces, he said.

FEATURED STORIES

Cody said he was housed in a dorm with 69 other men, all sharing a single working toilet, sink, and shower. In the lawsuit, Cody recalled the heat of summer, when temperatures inside the jail reached 125 degrees. The hot conditions led to July protests that resulted in city officials temporarily bringing in portable air conditioners.

“I felt like I was treated like a dog,” Cody said at a news conference before correcting himself. “Dogs get treated better, to tell you the truth.”

Another former inmate, Diedre Wortham, was arrested on a decade-old traffic ticket and spent 22 days in the jail. She said that after being hospitalized for high blood pressure, she was denied medicine for a week.

Wortham also said that she breathed through a T-shirt because of mold in the jail, and stuffed shirts under her cell door to keep mice out.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it out of the Workhouse alive,” Wortham said.

All seven plaintiffs are black. ArchCity Defenders said in the court filing that the vast majority of inmates at the jail are black, and virtually all of them are being held awaiting trial because they cannot afford bail, mostly for non-violent crimes. A little over half of St. Louis’ residents are black.

Blake Strode, an attorney for ArchCity Defenders, noted that the same jail was the subject of a lawsuit 40 years ago. He said the problems at the jail are further evidence of the way the St. Louis-area’s criminal justice system is destructive to poor, black residents.

ADVERTISEMENT

Strode called conditions at the jail “unconstitutional and inhumane,” violating constitutional provisions against cruel and unusual punishment.             /kg

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: ArchCity Defenders, black residents, inhumane conditions, St. Louis jail, US, Workhouse
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
lifestyle

Hermès goes after new market with 2018 watches

October 19, 2018 06:30 AM

lifestyle

Is the terno still in fashion?

October 19, 2018 06:25 AM

lifestyle

Fashion and beauty labels that give back

October 19, 2018 06:10 AM

lifestyle

In this gallery, you need to hike to see the artworks

October 19, 2018 06:05 AM

newsinfo

More nations seen legalizing pot

October 19, 2018 05:42 AM



© Copyright 1997-2018 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.