CLAYTON — St. Louis County jail officials have suspended three staff members in connection with the June 11 death of an inmate who had been held at the county jail for eight days, County Executive Sam Page said Tuesday.
In remarks to the County Council at its regular meeting Tuesday, Page said he is making appointments to a board to provide county officials with advice about the jail. The board will include the chief medical officer for SSM Healthcare, a respected member of the clergy and a former inmate, he said.
A Post-Dispatch story in April showed how the county’s Justice Services Advisory Board had been dormant for years and that few in county government knew it existed. The board met sporadically and kept few records. Former County Executive Steve Stenger never made an appointment during his tenure.
Page said, “We won’t do that.”
The inmate, Daniel Stout, died from peritonitis caused by an ulcer that perforated his intestine, an autopsy found. A source with knowledge of the case told the Post-Dispatch he had tried to seek medical care overnight in the jail but a nurse refused to come to his cell. He died the next morning less than an hour after being transported to a state prison about an hour away.
It was the fourth inmate death involving the jail this year. Each of the cases involved staffers who did not act with urgency when an inmate was in a medical crisis.
Page noted that the county was struggling to find adequate staffing and deliver high-quality medical care at the jail, and that jail workers deal with many prisoners who have drug dependencies and mental illness.
He said he had inspected the jail himself and asked the Clayton police to investigate whether there was a pattern of problems in the jail leading to inmate deaths. And he had initiated a regular meeting schedule and strengthened communications among the county’s chief medical officer, Clayton EMS and St. Mary’s Emergency Department director to coordinate care and share information in a timely manner. And he said the jail was looking or a doctor to work full time.
An accrediting agency had recently given the jail nearly perfect marks in an audit, he said, but the jail clearly had to do better.
“And we will do better,” he said. “Simply put, the Justice Center is not good enough. So, we’re continuing to look for improvements.”