ST. LOUIS ( – Another disturbance was reported at the St. Louis City’s Justice Center (CJC) in downtown St. Louis just days after a riot that left windows shattered and a master control system damaged.

Around 7:30 p.m. Friday, a disturbance broke out between 25 detainees during their routine meal delivery. Officials said some people broke out of their cells to join while others were having recreation time. Corrections officers deployed pepper spray to break up the altercation and ordered all detainees back in their cells. Nobody was injured, authorities say.

St. Louis City's jail saw yet another uprising, but unlike the ones earlier this year, this one remained within the walls of the Justice Center. Video obtained by News 4 shows the city losing control inside the jail again. The video from inside a cell block shows a maintenance worker appearing to do some work to a cell door around 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

Friday’s incident marked the fifth disturbance reported at the CJC within an eight-month span. Video obtained by News 4 shows a maintenance worker appearing to do some work to a cell door around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. During the video, a fight or a disturbance of some kind breaks out. Minutes later, people are seen coming out of their cell. Things escalate when corrections officers come in and a detainee appears to say, "let's riot, man." Roughly 120 inmates from the Annex building were temporarily transferred to the city’s Medium Security Institution building, commonly known as the workhouse, until an upgraded locking system can be installed, officials said.

“Eighteen from the female unit are being transferred to a pod today, and an additional 100 from the male unit will be transferred to other pods over the next couple of days,” Nick Dunne, a spokesperson from St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office said Saturday.

In February and April of this year, officials acknowledged faulty locks in the facility, saying they were to blame for uprisings that lead to broken windows and fires. Dunne said they are working to find the best solution to ensure the safety of corrections workers and detainees.

“Our administration has inherited a faulty and easily manipulated locking system that has been documented for more than a decade,” Dunne said. “We will continue to make the necessary upgrades to bring the locking systems back into operation, and this action will help expedite repairs. We continue to advocate for expeditious due process for pretrial detainees and restorative justice to reduce recidivism among returning citizens who have served their time."

Earlier this week, one correctional officer shared with News 4 anonymously his concerns about safety within CJC following Tuesday's riot. 

"It's unsafe for both the prisoners and the staff in the prison currently," he said.  

News 4 spoke with Ward 23 Alderman Joe Vaccaro, who says he was not surprised to hear another incident happen inside the jail. 

“Is the city not in control of its security institution?" News 4's Gabriela Vidal asked Vaccaro. 

“Absolutely, I will say it is not in control, no matter how they want to lie," said Vaccaro. "No, if you’re going to get in control, we’re going to have to train and protect our employees. Give them stab vests, give them things they can do instead of leaving the room because they have no protection.  "

Vaccaro has been especially critical of Mayor Tishara Jones' decision to close MSI, otherwise known as the Workhouse, back in June. The jail closed a month ago after some city leaders made claims of inhumane conditions for inmates at the facility. Now, that same facility will be taking in inmates following Friday's disturbance. 

"They're going to put all the people back in there. If it's that bad, why are they doing that?" he said. 

Vaccaro argues Jones created a false narrative of the conditions inside the Workhouse and the decision to close it has created a crowded and unsafe environment for the inmates and staff at the Justice Center downtown instead. 

"We said don't close the workhouse, its a very bad idea. The CJC is not ready. But the mayor had to do it. 'Oh no, I'm going to keep a campaign promise no matter who I hurt," Vaccaro said.

No one from the city mayor's office was immediately available for comment on Saturday. 

Through a public records request, News 4 obtained an email from the Interim Corrections Commissioner for the jails addressing Tuesday's disturbance.  In it, he says there are still problems with the locks in six out of the 10 cell blocks that house general population inmates. Vaccaro says the jail has secured funding to begin work on the locks, and he hopes now they can with some inmates moved temporarily. 

“I think they should be over at the Workhouse for now. I think they need to sort through what all they got. Look at what floors can be secured, which floors that they feel they can secure people on," said Vaccaro. "The time to fix it is now."

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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