FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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ST. LOUIS — Yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri sent a position paper to President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed. Entitled “Still Suffering in Silence: Continuing Human Rights Abuses in St. Louis Correctional Centers,” the paper is part of an ongoing dialogue between the ACLU-EM and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen that began after the ACLU-EM published its 2009 report—Suffering in Silence—disclosing allegations of misconduct witnessed by six corrections officers and a handful of inmates. Shortly after that report, the Board of Aldermen mandated that the St. Louis City jails authorities work with the ACLU-EM to create an independent oversight mechanism for the jails. The talks stalled more than a year ago but, as the ACLU-EM states in a letter to Reed, the organization wanted to meet its responsibilities in the project by issuing its conclusions to the Board.
The ACLU-EM’s paper recommends that the aldermen form an independent corrections review committee that would monitor jail conditions and authorities’ compliance with the grievance process. “This 7-member committee would consist of experts in various related fields, as well as representatives of city government, the union serving jail guards and community groups,” explains John Chasnoff, program director of the ACLU-EM. “It would be able to conduct visits, have confidential access to inmates and guards, and it would make sure that investigations are conducted thoroughly. Finally, the review committee could make recommendations to bring practices in line with human rights.”
“The human rights abuses in our city jails continue despite the light we’ve brought to the situation,” said Brenda L. Jones, executive director of the ACLU-EM, referring to the recent exposé of jail officials forcing inmates to fight each other gladiator-style. “It’s clear to us that nothing will change without a formal entity with the authority to monitor conditions and maintain standards consistently. Anything less will be a short-term fix.”
The full position paper can be found at: Jails Position Paper.
The ACLU-EM is a non-partisan, not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of civil liberties in eastern Missouri. Located in St. Louis, the ACLU-EM is an affiliate of the national ACLU.