Civilian board to finally tour troubled St. Louis jail

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ST. LOUIS — A civilian board created to help oversee the troubled St. Louis City Justice Center will get its first tour of the facility today. The Detention Facilities Oversight Board has been around for 18 months, but until today, members have not been able to get into the facility because authorities say they lacked the proper training.

The Justice Center has been the scene of multiple problems and controversies. A 73-year-old guard taken hostage by inmates in August was one of the problems. The guard was eventually freed and taken away for treatment. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured in that incident.

That was just two days after the death of Carlton Bernard, who was a detainee at the jail. At least nine inmates have died at the city justice center in the last two years.

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There have been complaints from detainees about the conditions inside the facility. In October, the Missouri state auditor launched an investigation into the Justice Center, citing multiple concerns.

Earlier this month, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved training to allow members of the civilian oversight board to get into the Justice Center.

The legislation for that training, sponsored by Alderman Rasheen Aldridge, also allows the oversight board to hire independent legal counsel when necessary.

Reverend Darryl Gray, the chair of the oversight board, says members will go into the facility at two this afternoon for a 15-minute site visit. They will meet with detainees, correctional officers and administrative staff. After the visit, the board will meet with the media to discuss their findings.


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