Possible drawbacks in closing St. Louis Workhouse may delay closure

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ST. LOUIS – For years, activists and their supports in city hall have clamored for closing the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, more commonly known as the Workhouse. You Paid For It Investigator Elliott Davis looked into new developments that may end up delaying the plan to shut the jail down.

A proposal by St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed called for having a plan in place by December 31 to close the Workhouse.

St. Louis Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass testified before an aldermanic public committee about such a closure. He said some inmates would have to be sent to jails anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours away. That would mean long commutes for low-income families, many of whom don’t even have transportation.

Advocates of closing the Workhouse have said just ship the prisoners to the Downtown Justice Center.

Glass said that would mean crowding people in that jail and some inmates would end up sleeping on the floor. He added that some of the programs offered at the Workhouse would have to be scrapped if you sent those inmates to the downtown jail, which is a maximum-security facility.

Alderman Joe Vaccaro said many of them would also be in with worse criminals than at the Workhouse.

Vaccaro said he’s talked with some of the inmates, who told him they were against the move to the Justice Center and against moving hours away from St. Louis

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