Family of dead CJC detainee speak out, worry this will happen to other families

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Ramia Hodge was at work when she received the call that her stepfather had died at the St. Louis City Justice Center.

Hodge’s stepfather, Terrence Smith, is the second person who has died after a medical emergency at CJC in less than two weeks.

“Don’t get me wrong, everybody that goes there probably isn’t innocent and probably isn’t guilty. But we still have to treat them with some type of respect,” said Hodge. “At the end of the day, that’s somebody’s mama, daddy, auntie, uncle, granddaddy.”

First Alert 4 obtained court documents that show in April, Smith fell from his cell’s top bunk and suffered several injuries, including:

  • Upper extremity weakness
  • Impaired mobility
  • Spinal injuries

Smith was medically released from the jail for treatment after CJC medical staff said they couldn’t help with the day-to-day care and rehab.

Hodge said Smith was in bad health before going to CJC and worsened after the accident. She tells First Alert 4 that Smith went back to CJC only weeks after being medically released to the hospital.

“They gave him a colostomy bag. He had a neck brace. He lost his memory. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t walk. He was in a wheelchair,” said Hodge. “But before he went in, he was walking, he was talking, he knew all the kid’s names.”

Smith’s daughter, Deborah Hodge, said she wants to see change at the CJC so that other families don’t have to go through the same thing. She argues her dad should have been released on bond to get medical treatment at home.

“A better medical team. Better officers,” said Hodge.

This comes as the Board of Aldermen lays out plans for legislation expanding what the detention facilities oversight board is able to do in regard to the CJC. According to the oversight board and several aldermen, there are roadblocks preventing the board from being able to properly oversee operations and keep the detainees safe.