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Video From Inside St. Louis Workhouse Jail Shows Leaks, Bugs and Decay – St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri 2021-06-11 07:50:00 –

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  • HEATHER TAYLOR Video Screenshot
  • Three scenes from a tour inside the workhouse prison (from the elevator to the right) show a hole in the ceiling of the hallway, a leak of rain into a bucket, and a bug in the aging kitchen floor.

Rare video footage recorded in the most dilapidated area of ​​the St. Louis Workhouse Prison reveals signs of negligence and devastation at the facility 55 years ago. The footage was released last month by the administration of Mayor Tishaura Jones, who promised to close the prison by July 1.

The video is referenced in this week’s RFT Cover storyExamine the complex history of how public tours to prisons reflect the policies and perceptions of city leaders tasked with determining their future.

Fully embedded at the end of this story, the approximately 27-minute footage consists of several clips that follow the path through the prison kitchen, dining room, gymnasium, and hallways. The video records rainwater leaking from the ceiling of the hallway and part of a prison closed by director Jeffrey Carson since 2017.

On May 7, Carson served as a tour guide for Heather Taylor’s Poorhouse, a senior adviser to the city’s public security bureau, Dan Isom. Taylor used his smartphone to shoot throughout the trip, capturing widespread evidence of decline.

It was raining that day.

At one point, Taylor photographed a puddle on the floor of the gymnasium. Carson can be heard in a video explaining that a flat tin roof leads to regular leaks.

“It ruins recreation on rainy days,” says Carson.

In another section of the footage clipped below, Taylor and Carson walk through the prison kitchen and film insects crawling near the walls of the refrigerator. Some of the refrigerators have stopped working and can only be used for dry storage. — As Carson explains, “If there is a bug, most of the time it’s around the drain.”

In the second half of the video, Carson takes Taylor to a bathroom and shower facility that hasn’t been used for years. In these areas, which have not been upgraded for decades, toilets are organized to force detainees to defecate and urinate without privacy. The unit does not comply with modern prison standards enforced by the city’s civil rights. The executive agency, Carson, told Taylor.

Carson also showed some housing units that haven’t been used since 2017. It contains one room with more than 12 men packed in a crib. Carson describes another unit as “looking like an old dungeon,” with a row of small cells and a heavy metal door with a padlock.

These areas were depopulated shortly after Carson took over as director in 2017. In the video, Carson explains:

Click to enlarge
A May 7 inspection scene taken by Heather Taylor looking at an old dormitory or bathroom that is considered inhumane by current prison standards. -HEATHER TAYLOR Video Screenshot

  • HEATHER TAYLOR Video Screenshot
  • A May 7 inspection scene taken by Heather Taylor looking at an old dormitory or bathroom that is considered inhumane by current prison standards.

Taylor’s footage was released by the city four days after the tour, but this is the first time its existence has been announced or released.Is RFT I found the clip after checking the first shared Google Drive folder in the mayor’s office on April 24th. Initially, the folder contained only photos of tours taken by Mayor Tishaura Jones and other elected leaders during their hours in the workhouse and downtown city. Judicial center.

In an interview two weeks after the Poorhouse tour on May 7, Taylor admitted that millions of dollars were spent upgrading other housing units, but with ancient ventilation systems and rusty water pipes. Claims to cost “hundreds of millions of dollars” to repair.They too it can It will be fixed. In some areas, access to broken system components requires personnel to be placed in unsafe crawl spaces deep inside prison walls.

For Taylor, repair is just a “patchwork” of a short-term prison solution that goes far beyond the point of sustainable use.

“Jeff Carson did what he could,” she says. “But every time someone slips and gets injured, the ceiling leaks, or the area has to be closed due to a flood, there are long-term consequences. These things are collapsing. What are you doing? “I’m patching a broken building. I’m looking at this place and need to close it.”

It’s the same message from the mayor’s office. In response to a video email question, city spokesman Nick Dunne agreed that Carson should close the Poorhouse and said the city intends to close it by the end of this month. ..

“We are diligent and prioritize the safety, health, humane treatment of detainees and the well-being of prison officers during our transition,” wrote Dan.

The challenge of closing the Poorhouse means consolidating the city’s prison population into the downtown Justice Center. The Justice Center is still undergoing lock and utility repairs after multiple riots earlier this year.

The transition of detainees to the judicial center has already led to overcrowding. June 3rd, Carson St. Louis Post Dispatch Dozens of detainees were forced to sleep, sometimes days, without mattresses on the floor or bench while waiting for the cell space to open.

It remains to be seen if the city will eventually be able to close the puzzled facility by July 1.As a detail of this week’s cover story, the discussion when And How Shifted in the last four years that should be closed Because many mistakes in the prison were inevitable.

But thanks to Taylor’s video, the public can finally see a version of the prison that was barely shown — but well known to the detainees who were forced to endure them.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter.
@D_Towski.. Email the author at

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