ST. LOUIS ( -- Could hundreds of accused inmates be released from St Louis' jails next week? Activists who want to close the jail known as the Workhouse hope so.

City leaders, however, say that will not happen.

“These conditions are unconstitutional and inhumane," said Inez Bordeaux, who spent one month in 2016 in St. Louis' Workhouse jail.

Now, she advocates for shutting it down.

“It’s infested with rats and roaches, there is black mold growing on the walls, we all know there is no air-conditioning,” she said.

She and others gathered Wednesday, enlisting the help of big business Ben and Jerry's ice cream. They protested the city's cash bail system and they say has been keeping people behind bars simply because they cannot pay up.

Tuesday, a federal judge made a key ruling about cash bail in the city, ordering new hearings for hundreds of detainees. If they don't get them, the courts said they would be released.

READ: Judge: St. Louis jails can't hold inmates who can't pay

“Huge impact, it’s going to mean so much for poor and black people living in the city right now,” Bordeaux said.

Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards says there will not be a mass exodus from the jails.

“There are certain people who need to be locked up in the City of St Louis, they don't have the ability to assimilate in our communities, based on their behaviors,” Edwards said.

He says cash bail should be considered on a case-by-case basis. He says he'd consider closing the Workhouse, but not at the expense of public safety.

“Any time you have an old facility that's not modern, then it causes us problems," Edwards said. "But we cannot close it and not have a plan or a second facility to house people who need to be locked up."

As for Ben and Jerry's involvement, he says, “I like the ice cream, I don't like the fact that he thinks he can influence the people of St. Louis.”

There are separate federal lawsuits, one regarding cash bail and another about the conditions in the Workhouse.

News 4 will keep following them.

Copyright 2019 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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