ACLU: ‘Endemic abuse’ of inmates in St. Louis jails

Summary:

I recall reading a very profound quote: You can gauge the morality of any society by looking at its prisons. If that is the case, the city of St. Louis has serious problems.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri investigated the jails in the area after being contacted by Cedric Cross, a former inmate at the Justice Center who alleged that an officer beat him so badly that he had to have surgery because of swelling of the stomach and internal bleeding.

The ACLU report entitled, Suffering in Silence: Human Rights Abuses in St. Louis Correctional Centers, raises “serious and troubling questions about the treatment of inmates by staff at the correctional centers.” Endemic abuse and patterns of policy violations are words used to describe the situation in two St. Louis jails.

Redditt Hudson, ACLU-EM program associate who wrote the report, called the 67-page document an “important wake-up call” that demands urgent reform of the two jails.

‘Serious and troubling questions about the treatment of inmates by staff,’ says ACLU

ST. LOUIS – With her long history of chronic asthma and sickle cell anemia, a short stay at the St. Louis Justice Center for failing to appear in court for two traffic violations cost LaVonda Kimble her life.

She died of an acute asthma attack less than 12 hours after arriving at the jail two years ago. The St. Louis Fire Department report alleges that poor medical care, delays and incompetence may have contributed to the woman’s death.

Tragically, Kimble, age 30, wasn’t even supposed to be jailed. Her $250 bond had been paid in Bel-Nor hours before she became ill, but her paperwork was delayed by a mix-up.

Joshua Turner was being held at the Workhouse, the city’s medium-security institution, on a charge of property damage from December 2006. He was accused of damaging a window, drywall and a broom at the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri.

In January 2008, Turner, age 18, managed to get a bedsheet to hang himself despite being on suicide watch. A staffer left the sheet within Turner’s reach by stuffing it under his cell door. Turner had been held at the jail for one year while his court case lingered.

Cedric Cross, a former inmate at the Justice Center, contacted the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for help, alleging that a correctional officer at the jail had assaulted him. According to Cross, he left the jail on March 29, 2007, crawling and unable to walk. He underwent immediate surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital as a result of his injuries, which included swelling to the stomach and internal bleeding.

Kimble, Turner and Cross are among many in city jails who have been physically abused, medically neglected, experienced extended incarceration or died during the last three years, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri’s scathing preliminary investigation that sheds light on “endemic abuse” and “patterns of policy violations” in St. Louis jails.

The report, titled “Suffering in Silence: Human Rights Abuses in St. Louis Correctional Centers,” raises serious and troubling questions about the treatment of inmates by staff at the correctional centers.

Redditt Hudson, ACLU-EM program associate who wrote the report, called the 67-page document an “important wake-up call” that demands urgent reform of the two jails.

Prior to joining the ACLU-EM in 2005, Hudson was a former St. Louis police officer who left the force in 1999 to focus on addressing systematic problems in the criminal justice system.

“We have an inmate in this report that describes witnessing an assault on another inmate by a correctional officer that was so sadistic that the inmate urinated blood as a result of the assault,” Hudson said. “Those are the kinds of things that really demand that a sane and just society take action.”

During a yearlong investigation, dozens of inmates have contacted the American and ACLU-EM to complain about the conditions in the City jails.

Many of them cited incidents of poor medical care and neglect, correctional officers allowing inmates to assault each other, improper living conditions, extended incarceration and sexual misconduct at the St. Louis Justice Center (located at 200 South Tucker Blvd.) and the Workhouse (located at 7600 Hall St., north of Downtown).

source: http://www.gnn.tv/headlines/20126/ACLU_Endemic_abuse_of_inmates_in_St_Louis_jails

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