St. Louis Mayor’s 2022 budget proposal includes closing ‘The Workhouse’

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year from newly elected Mayor Tishaura Jones outlines a plan to close “The Workhouse.” The medium-security jail has been a rallying point for activists after inhumane conditions were exposed by FOX 2’s Elliott Davis.

The closing of The Workhouse would save the city $7.8 million, according to St. Louis City estimates. That money would go to balancing the city’s budget and services for detainees. Over a million dollars is slated to support social workers, case management, mental health services, and childcare.

“Since 2016, I have called for the closure of the Workhouse due to inhumane conditions, including broken plumbing, inadequate medical care, moldy food and contaminated water; not to mention a toxic culture of abuse, retaliation and neglect among correctional staff. The injustice caused by these dehumanizing conditions are compounded by the fact that most city detainees have not been convicted of any crime, with an average length of stay running longer than 300 days. I am proud to begin the process of divesting our city from our expensive arrest and incarcerate model, and pledge to shift time, energy and money towards a public safety strategy focused on addressing the root causes of violent crime,” writes Mayor Tishaura Jones.

“Close the Workhouse” issued a statement after Mayor Jones’ proposal was released Wednesday.

“The Workhouse is on the way to closing and this win is a culmination of grassroots organizing, community bailouts, lawsuits, and the people demanding an end to the failed arrest and incarcerate model. This problematic approach continues to divert resources away from our communities while harming our families, instead of funding real public safety. The closure of the Workhouse is only the first step towards achieving the St. Louis we all deserve. We will continue to push for a participatory budgeting process that allows our communities to re-envision public safety as support and well-being instead of policing and cages.”

According to the proposal, this is where Mayor Jones wants to redistribute the 7.8 million:
● Approximately $4 million to balance the city’s budget
● Approx. $2 million kept in the budget for medical services and meals for detainees
● Approx. $1.8 million toward the Mayor’s priorities, which include:

  • $1.3 million toward the Division of Supportive Reentry to support
    social workers, case management, mental health services, childcare and
    other wraparound services.
  • $300,000 for doubling the Civilian Oversight Board budget to increase the
    capacity of correctional investigators looking into acts of retaliation and
    neglect within St. Louis City jails.
  • $150,000 for community visioning planning around improvements to the
    Workhouse, Municipal Courts, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
    Headquarters.

The budget proposal did not outline where the people in The Workhouse would go after it closes.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment will hold a budget hearing open to public comment on Friday, April 23 at 10:00 am.

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