ST. LOUIS – Concerns over safety and the woman in charge of the St. Louis Justice Center were the focus of the meeting for the citizens tasked with overseeing complaints with the jail.

It was the first meeting for the board since announcing plans to call for the jail commissioner to step down.

“I talked about our call to ask the mayor and director of public safety to request the board and Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah’s resignation,” said Janis Mensah, Chair of the Detention Facilities Oversight Board.

The board’s main concern in Monday’s meeting was about what they claim is a lack of access to jail records.

“Our mandate is to investigate accusations like these,” said Pam Walker, board secretary.

Advocate groups and community members held a rally in September 2022 after six deaths were reported at the city’s jail within six months. During Monday’s board meeting, members expressed frustrations claiming the commissioner has kept the records from them.

“Police have done an investigation into those six deaths. Where is that investigation,” Walker said. “Why haven’t we seen it? Those are my issues.”

A spokesperson for the city sent this statement:

The Department of Public Safety hears the concerns of board members and will work through this transition period to bring the DFOB into compliance per its ordinance and make sure it can operate effectively as an oversight body.”

Per the ordinance, board members are required to complete orientation which includes a training at the CJC. Orientation began last year, and one Board member has completed said training from the CJC thus far. Director Coyle has full confidence in Commissioner Clemons-Abdullah’s ability to work with board members.