Too hot, now too cold? Workhouse inmates complain of cold air from new A/C units

ST. LOUIS – Inmates at the St. Louis Workhouse are complaining that it is now too cold in the detention facility after the city installed air conditioning units in response to protests over stifling heat at the jail.

According to our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson said five large, temporary units were installed in older areas of the dormitories on July 24. One inmate even used a broom handle in an attempt to damage a vent blowing cold air. That inmate was sent to administrative segregation.

The cost of renting the portable air conditioners is $40,000 for the first month and $140,000 for three months.

The facility, built in 1966, can house over 1,100 inmates; more than 760 are presently incarcerated. Only a few sections of the institution are air conditioned, meaning staffers routinely work in hot spaces. The inmates previously had to rely on vented windows for air circulation.

The mayor’s office said the A/C units are intended to lower the temperature in the facility to about 78 degrees, but that means the vents are almost constantly blowing air.

The spokesman said jail officials are looking to install thermostats to help control the A/C units.