ST. LOUIS ( -- Activists have been calling for the closing of the Medium Security Institute, also known as the Workhouse, and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed has decided to file legislation to do that.

The bills would close The Workhouse and redirect the money budgeted to it to establish a Division of Recidivism Reduction and Neighborhood Crime Reduction Fund. Currently, MSI has been allocated $8 million in next year’s city budget.

Activists have been calling for the closure of the prison saying it has harsh conditions and some of the people being detained there have not been convicted, but instead simply can't afford their bail. 

The Division of Recidivism Reduction would hire additional social workers who would be assigned to detainees with mental health issues to help them and their families.

The Neighborhood Crime Reduction Fund would be established through any potential leftover funds and would allocate resources to neighborhoods with high violent crime. The money would be distributed by a Participatory Budget Process.

The city would still be responsible for housing detainees referred by the courts, and requires the Director of Personnel to assess current staff at MSI to see if they would fit into other civil service positions in the city.

The board bill will be required to have two-thirds vote approval to pass.

“These bills will be a catalyst to a defined and organized process to effectively and safely close the workhouse while allowing for the funding of needed resources that are lacking in our community,” Reed said.

The Commissioner of Corrections will have 45 days from the effective date of the ordinance to submit a detailed plan to discontinue operation at MSI and a planned course of action no later than 150 days.

The bill will be first read and introduced at the Board of Aldermen this Thursday, July 2 at 10 a.m. by webinar.

Previously, Mayor Lyda Krewson proposed reducing the proposed 2021 budget money allocated to the Workhouse and instead divert it to the community policing program known as "Cops and Clinicians."

You can read the full board bill below: 

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