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4 detainees beaten, kicked by other detainees during disturbance at the City Justice Center in St. Louis

<i>KMOV</i><br/>The disturbance at the City Justice Center was the third one in a month.
The disturbance at the City Justice Center was the third one in a month.

By Web Staff

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    ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — For third time in less than a month, there has been a disturbance at the City Justice Center (CJC) in downtown St. Louis.

The incident happened around 12:30 a.m. Authorities tell News 4 that about two dozen detainees were on recreation time in the recreation area of the fourth floor, when around 12 detainees beat and kicked four other detainees. Corrections officers then stepped in and pulled the targets of attack out of scrum before they used OC spray to calm the situation.

The four targets were taken to a hospital and later released. There were no life-threatening injuries. One detainee remains at the CJC medical area due to head injuries. Officials said one of the assailants has a broken hand from the assault.

After authorities reviewed surveillance video, the city sheriff and police were contacted to transport the detainees responsible for the attack to the CJC annex, which is on the campus of the Medium Security Institution, or the Workhouse. Authorities say the detainees responsible will be charged.

It comes a little more than two weeks after two disturbances broke out at the facility. In total, there have been six disturbances at the CJC over the past nine months.

In early August, more than 100 detainees were then moved to the campus of the Workhouse. Some inmates had previously been moved from the Workhouse to the CJC as part of an effort to fulfill a campaign promise by Mayor Tishaura Jones to close the Workhouse within her first 100 days in office. At the time, one supporter of closing the Workhouse said he was concerned the move was being made too fast.

City officials have cited problems with locks on some cells doors at CJC, saying they need to be fixed. A corrections officer previously told News 4 the facility is not safe for guards or inmates. When it was announced that some inmates at the CJC were being moved to the Workhouse, Public Safety Director Dan Isom said both options are bad for inmates. The current population of the Workhouse campus, including detainees who were transferred Saturday, is now 80. City officials say more from CJC could be sent there to expedite upgrades at CJC.

Sunday, Isom said he did not know how long needed upgrades would take at CJC, but said work on the third floor could take around three months. Isom added that closing the main Workhouse building has given the city some flexibility to move certain inmates from the CJC to the Workhouse campus.

Isom also told News 4 that he thinks many factors are to blame for the recent increase in disturbances at the CJC, including COVID-19 and the fact that many inmates have been in the facility longer than normal due to the closure of the courts during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police said no officers were injured in Saturday morning’s disturbance.

Mayor Jones’s office released the following statement about the situation at the Workhouse:

“Just before 12:30am on Saturday, August 14, about two dozen detainees were on recreation time in the secure recreation area on the 4th floor of the City Justice Center (CJC), when about a dozen proceeded to beat and kick four other detainees.

Corrections officers extracted the targets of the attacks from the unit and de-escalated the situation using OC spray. The victims were transported to a local hospital for treatment. After reviewing footage of the attacks, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department were contacted to transport the detainees who participated in the attacks to the CJC annex. This brings the CJC annex’s current population to approximately 80, with more to be transferred to expedite upgrades at the CJC.

The City of St. Louis is making a significant investment in necessary upgrades to bring the doors, locks, and locking systems up to standard after decades of inaction have heightened the risks they pose to the safety of detainees and Corrections staff. The City is committed to remaining transparent around the status of the CJC, and to advocate for a fair and speedy trial for pretrial detainees as well as restorative justice to reduce recidivism among returning citizens who have served their time.”

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