ST. LOUIS — A group of detainees being held at the St. Louis Justice Center was transferred to the Medium Security Institution after refusing to return to their cells Friday afternoon, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson's office said.
Jacob Long, the spokesman for the mayor's office, said there are about 30 detainees refusing to follow orders. The St. Louis Sherrif's Office and members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department worked to resolve the incident.
There are no reports of injuries as of this writing.
Long said 45 detainees were transferred to the Medium Security Institution, commonly referred to as The Workhouse.
This comes just a few days after a similar disturbance at the facility.
On Tuesday, a group of detainees became "non-compliant" with staff about returning to their designated area and assigned cells. The detainees were upset with another group of detainees.
Corrections officials and the sheriff’s office worked together Tuesday to deescalate the situation, Long said. Eventually, officers removed 56 detainees from the justice center. They are now being housed at the city's Medium Security Institution, which is often referred to as the Workhouse. There were no injuries to staff or detainees.
St. Louis police said officers responded to the justice center in a "support capacity."
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.
Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed provided the following statement in response to the incidents and the Justice Center:
“For the second time in just four days, the inmates at the Justice Center have had to take drastic measures because they feared for their lives due to possible exposure to COVID-19. The CJC is already overcrowded and trying to keep inmates separated from each other to limit the spread of COVID-19 is becoming extremely difficult.
The inmates created a disruption because they refused to be housed with COVID-19 positive inmates. To resolve this issue, a number of detainees, many by request, were transported to MSI to be in a safer, less-crowded environment. Without the ability to move these individuals to another facility, many of the inmates would have had their lives put in jeopardy.
I commend the Mayor and the Director of Public Safety for taking swift action and safely de-escalating this dangerous situation.
These instances demonstrated why it would have been morally and ethically irresponsible to ignore the ramifications of the pandemic and force the closure of MSI by December 31. It would have further jeopardized the detainee’s health and put their lives at risk just to meet a specific timeline.
These individuals have been placed in our care by the court system and we have a duty to provide them with a safe environment. We cannot ignore COVID-19, and we cannot lose sight of the fact that these individuals still have rights. We cannot jeopardize their lives just to say we closed a building,”
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