Embattled St. Louis corrections commissioner stepping down

The head of St. Louis’ oft-criticized corrections department will resign at the end of the month, the new mayor announced Wednesday.

Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a news release that Dale Glass wasn’t asked to resign from his position as corrections commissioner, but she made clear that she wasn’t pleased with how he’s run the department, which in recent months has had to deal with two large inmate uprisings and complaints about squalid conditions in the city’s jails.

“Failed leadership overseeing the City’s Corrections division has left the City with a huge mess to clean up,” Jones said, citing failing jail locks, lackluster maintenance and subhuman conditions for detainees.

“We look forward to bringing effective leadership into the Corrections division that can account for these issues and raise the bar on effective management and oversight of the City Justice Center,” said Jones, who was elected last month.

Glass didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Justice Center, which sits across from City Hall downtown, is the larger of the city’s two jails. In February and in April, detainees broke windows and set fires, though no one was seriously hurt. Two smaller skirmishes have also occurred at the jail since December.

Inmate advocates say the uprisings were spurred in part by lengthy pre-trial detentions. Due in part to court shutdowns aimed at slowing the COVID-19 pandemic, many inmates have been jailed for over a year without going to trial.

Inmates also have complained about what they perceive as lax COVID-19 protocols inside the jail, and about jail conditions.

The inmates were able to escape their cells in February due to faulty locks. Glass said following the April uprising that inmates again were able to get out of cells because locks could be compromised. The city is spending $13.5 million to replace the locks and doors, but the project will take several months.

Glass has denied that the jails’ conditions were substandard, but Jones and other political leaders who toured them last month said the conditions weren’t acceptable.

The other jail, known as the Workhouse, has been the subject of protests and lawsuits for decades. Detainees and their advocates have complained about unsanitary conditions, poor food and said the jail is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Jones has pledged to close the Workhouse within her first 100 days in office, though it is unclear where its detainees would be moved.

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