ST. LOUIS – Inmates at the Justice Center are staying an average of more than three months longer in jail because of the pandemic, according to the new St. Louis Corrections Task Force. Members recommended immediate relaxing of restrictions because of the findings.
During Thursday’s meeting, it was calculated that Justice Center inmates current average time in jail is 346 days. The pre-pandemic average jail stay was calculated to be 220 days, an increase of more than 120 extra days in jail.
It was also revealed that some inmates have been locked up more than six years. One inmate has reportedly been locked up for nine years.
Magnifying tensions is the fact that the Justice Center may be the most restrictive of any jail or prison anywhere. Pam Walker said inmates are currently allowed two 45-minute periods per day to call relatives, shower, and eat. She recommended an immediate increase in time from 45 minutes to two hours for each of the two periods.
Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass said they’re working on getting inmates special communication tablets to help combat increased isolation.
“Jails were not intended originally for people to stay this long and it adds up, you know, even being able to go outside and walk,” he said. “So, it adds to the issue of being incarcerated; it’s magnified by that fact.”
The task force said it has now been given access to an area of the jail it was previously denied, as we reported yesterday. Task force members protested restricted access during Wednesday’s meeting and updated the public that they were able to get onto the fifth floor, which has been an area of controversy. Several members say they’ll also return to the fifth floor for another review soon.