A current member of a board designed to oversee the St. Louis County Jail outlined some of the struggles the board has faced during a meeting Tuesday with advocacy group ArchCity Defenders.
During the meeting, Rev. Phillip Duvall, who formerly headed the now-revived St. Louis County Jail advisory board and now serves as a member, highlighted obstacles for the board including transparency from the jail and county government on matters such as inmate deaths, as well as a culture of resistance to change.
There were also conflicts between medical staff and jail administration, Duvall said.
“Both were constantly finger pointing relative to who was responsible and who had not done their job,” said Duvall.
Duvall’s comments on his experiences with a board designed to analyze St. Louis County Jail comes just a day after the city of St. Louis announced a similar jail task force to look into the City Justice Center.
Duvall said board members saw inconsistent reports on incidents from officers within the county jail, poor training and insufficient resources. However, Duvall said the board was able to establish a medical dashboard and expose illegal physical abuses they uncovered happening within the jail.
During Tuesday’s meeting various family members of people incarcerated at CJC also spoke describing inhumane conditions and treatments their family members or friends told them about.
On Monday Mayor Lyda Krewson and other public officials announced a jail task force following an uprising Saturday when about 115 inmates took control of the fourth floor of the CJC, where they set fires. Officials said at least one guard was hurt, hospitalized and released.
The city’s Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards described Saturday's incident as inmates being violent, and said inmates did not have demands. Activists pointed out that incarcerated people have made demands for months complaining of inhumane conditions that have not been addressed.