ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A showdown between St. Louis City officials ensued inside a city jail Wednesday as News 4 and other media were blocked from entering, despite being invited by aldermen.
“[Aldermen] are not coming in with the media...you are not going to be allowed to film inside of here,” said Heather Taylor, a senior advisor to new Public Safety Director Dan Isom. Taylor said while media was not allowed inside due to concerns about detainee's privacy rights, aldermen could shoot photos and videos inside. News 4 would have agreed to not show detainees faces but was still denied access.
ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- For years, activists have called to close the city's medium security…
“I am chair of the public safety and this is very disrespectful,” said Aldermen Joe Vacarro. “Apparently, the mayor is afraid of the media."
Mayor Tishaura Jones has vowed to close MSI, often referred to as "The Workhouse,” in the first 100 days in office. Last month, she and Congresswoman Cori Bush, along with their staff and community advocates, took a tour, calling the conditions inside deplorable and inhumane. News 4 later got video through a public records request but our initial request to accompany them on the tour was denied.
Some aldermen say they don't think the conditions are as bad as claimed and want independent entities, like the media to see for themselves.
St Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed her first executive order Wednesday, taking an aim at police accountability.
“It’s just a bunch of garbage and I'm really upset, the media should be allowed in here,” said Vacarro.
"Let’s talk about transparency, let’s talk the talk and walk the walk. Let the public know, lets share what the conditions look like with the public,” said Alderman Jeffrey Boyd.
In the end, a few aldermen and at least one private citizen, Rev. Darryl Gray, got to go inside Wednesday. Some aldermen told News 4, it wasn't deplorable as claimed.
Newly elected St. Louis mayor Tishaura Jones led a group of elected leaders on a tour of the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) and the Medium Security Institution, known as the Workhouse, on Saturday. The group emerged from the Workhouse and had harsh criticism for the living conditions.
“It was not the dark, dank, dungeon that I have heard,” said Alderman James Page. “I will tell you right up front, I was impressed with what I saw."
“There is no mold downstairs at all, no way they could clean that out, it's super dry downstairs,” said Alderman Brandon Bosley. Bosley said he was looking for the worst, but didn't find it. “The floors were not dirty, you could drop a sandwich on the floor, of course you wouldn’t want to, but if you swiped your hands on the floors or the walls, no overwhelming amount of dirt on the walls."
Though Alderman Anne Schweitzer says she did observe problems.
“Just some ceiling issues, a lot of water leaks, some shower and toilet conditions that were not humane at all,” she said. “There is just not money in St. Louis to maintain two jails with declining populations there's just not."
The leaders are split on whether the jail should be shut down. “I think it’s unrealistic for us right now for us to make unrealistic expectations,” Bosley said.