Repeated Uprisings At St. Louis Jail Highlights Cash Bail System

Imprisoned residents at the Saint Louis County Justice Center are fighting back after enduring difficult conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. At approximately 8:30 p.m. ET on April 4, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department sent out a message claiming that people on the third floor were covering security cameras. Shortly thereafter, furniture was reportedly thrown and fires were started. Nearly an hour later, windows were broken and smoke was coming from inside the facility. In an attempt to mitigate the damage to the building, guards moved the crowd into another end of the third floor. Not long afterward, windows were broken and furniture was moved. Guards at the St. Louis County Justice Center reportedly regained control at around midnight.

"There were two violent and dangerous disturbances that unfolded at the City Justice Center downtown," Jacob Long, the director of communications for Mayor Lyda Krewson's office, told KDSK.

"Detainees became non-compliant, covered security cameras, smashed windows, and destroyed property."

It is important to note why these protests took place. Those incarcerated at the Saint Louis jail are fighting for the following two things: ending cash bail and resuming court hearings at a respectable pace. This is also not the first time that groups have protested against unfair conditions during the pandemic. In February, more than 100 people participated in a similar protest on the fourth floor of the same facility.

“I imagine they are under the same amount of stress due to COVID restrictions like the rest of us are,” Long said.

“Courts haven’t been hearing cases in the 22nd Judicial Circuit. Their family visits have been restricted. But also they are acting out and that is the current situation.”

In response to these uprisings, residents have called on Mayor Lyda Krewson to push for reform.

"Here we are, less than a month since the last uprising and there have been no changes to right these significant wrongs. I look forward to working with the next administration to address the concerns of the detainees and to make the facility safe for all who are in it," Missouri House of Representatives Rep. Rasheen Aldridge Jr. said.

"Treating people as if they don't have inherent worth is how we end up here. Continuing to ignore the cries for help will only ensure that more riots happen."

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