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ACLU blasts conditions in city jail, workhouse

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri says it has evidence that the St. Louis corrections department is violating the civil rights of inmates.

In a report sent to the Department of Justice Tuesday, the ACLU says 18 months of interviews with inmates and corrections officers at the city's workhouse and the downtown maximum security facility revealed evidence that guards were beating inmates, and sometimes ordering other inmates to do the same. The report also alleges medical neglect that in some cases led to death.

"What leads me to give weighted credibility to the accounts that I received is the consistency across time and across position," said Redditt Hudson, the ACLU's programming director and the report's author.

But city officials are dismissing the report's credibility, saying the ACLU itself calls it uncorroborated.

"It is based on the interviews of six anonymous corrections officers, although we employ 350 correctional officers," said city attorney Patti Hageman. "It's also based on the interviews of nine anonymous inmates although at any one time we house approximately 1300 inmates."

Hageman says the ACLU never told the city they were investigating jail conditions, and calls the timing of the report's release suspicious - Mayor Francis Slay is up for re-election in two weeks.