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Officials: 2nd disruption in a week occurs at St. Louis jail

January 2, 2021 GMT

ST. LOUIS (AP) — More inmates have been transferred out of a downtown St. Louis jail after a second disruption stemming from concerns about unsafe conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest problems arose Friday at the St. Louis City Justice Center, leading 45 inmates to be moved to the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, also known as the workhouse. That’s the same place where 56 inmates were moved to after they refused to return to their cells Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

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“The inmates created a disruption because they refused to be housed with COVID-19 positive inmates,” said Lewis Reed, the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The city plans to close the workhouse, where activists have protested conditions for years. However, Mayor Lyda Krewson last month announced that the facility would not close by this year, as originally expected.

Some, like Reed, say that closing the workhouse now, during the pandemic, would put inmates’ lives at risk “just to meet a specific timeline.”

“There’s just a lot more room to spread out out there,” said Reed’s legislative director, Mary Goodman.

The Justice Center was at 89% capacity as of Dec. 23, compared to the workhouse, which was at 11% capacity.