After more than 100 inmates at the St. Louis Justice Center escaped from their cells and staged an uprising on Saturday, first-term Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo. and a new “Squad” member, said she will try to “ensure” the prisoners receive their “demands,” Fox2 reported.
“I want to ensure that the demands made by those being held at CJC are not ignored, and I plan to investigate this further,” Bush wrote in a press release. “There needs to be a plan to improve conditions and decarcerate.”
“Additionally, following two previous uprisings at CJC, our community needs information about any actions taken to address concerns raised by people in detention, some of whom are simply being held because they cannot afford bail,” she continued.
This is the third riot at the downtown St. Louis jail since December.
Bush said the situation “must be addressed immediately,” not to prevent future riots so much as to reform St. Louis jails, which “have been notorious for their unsafe and unsanitary conditions.”
She said St. Louis suffers from “an incarceration crisis,” but it has nothing to do with escaped prisoners.
“To date, 1 in 5 incarcerated people nationally has tested positive for COVID-19, including many across the City of St. Louis,” she said. “I am concerned that the conditions for people who are incarcerated pose serious risks to their health, safety, and wellbeing as well as that of those who work there.”
The escaped inmates shattered windows, set fires, started a flood, threw items—including chairs, mattresses, and a stationary bike—out the fourth-floor windows, and held up signs that said, “Free 57,” “What about Anthony Smith?,” “Ian Gang,” and more, The Examiner reported.
Jimmie Edwards, the city’s director of public safety, said the prisoners freed themselves by disengaging the locks on their cell doors.
The uprising began at 6 a.m. and law enforcement officers at the city jail contained the situation before 10 a.m., said Jacob Long, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The 115 inmates who escaped were “extremely violent and noncompliant,” Long said.
Inmates attacked one police officer, who was treated at a hospital and released.
No prisoners were harmed.
Long said the inmates caused “fairly extensive” damage.
“There are some burn marks on the front of the building. They destroyed the inside of their floor and threw all sorts of stuff outside. … They flooded the floors, clogged the toilets, clogged the drains, so there is water damage,” Long said.