ST. LOUIS – St. Louis City leaders on Wednesday morning showcased millions of dollars in security upgrades at the City Justice Center Downtown. 

This comes after multiple incidents last year where inmates were able to get out of their cells due to faulty locks. Then riots followed. The inmates then broke windows in the building. Officers regained control of the situation using pepper spray. The prisoners broke exterior windows and lit fires on several occasions.

Dan Isom, the Interim Public Safety Director for the City of St. Louis and Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah, the Corrections Commissioner, answered questions about the upgrades. They then gave media members a tour of the upgraded third-floor area. That is the floor where the main problems have been with the uprisings. 

FOX 2 was told $7 million worth of improvements were made to the third floor.  

Isom and Clemons-Abdullah said about $20 million total will be spent in the long term for overall security improvements at the City Justice Center. 

Upgrades still have to be done on three more floors, the second, fourth, and fifth. At this point, there is no timeline for when all of the work will be completed. 

Isom and Clemons-Abdullah said much of the $7 million was spent on upgrades to cell locks on the third floor.

Additional funds were spent to elevate the work stations for correctional officers to make them safer, more secure sally ports were installed at the third-floor pod entrance, and tables were bolted down. 

In the past, the tables weren’t bolted down and the workstations for the correctional officers were on the floor at the same level as the inmates. Both of those situations posed safety hazards in addition to locks that weren’t secure.

Clemons-Abdullah said there are a little more than 600 inmates at the City Justice Center. She said starting on Friday, up to 300 of them can once again be housed on the third floor. 

Isom said the Medium Security Institution on Hall Street, commonly known as the Workhouse, is still open, and part of it is housing some inmates. He said there are 23 inmates at an annex part of the Workhouse. Although city officials are committed to fully closing the Workhouse, it will remain open for some time as an overflow facility where inmates can be housed if necessary. 

Isom and Clemons-Abdullah both say they believe the security upgrades at the City Justice Center will help make the facility much safer, but they admit there are still challenges including staffing issues. 

The City Justice Center could use some 50 more correctional officers.

However, Isom and Clemons-Abdullah say the security improvements are a significant step in the right direction.