Public Safety Director Dan Isom (center) speaks at a press conference on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 outside of the City Justice Center, flanked by public safety advisor Heather Taylor and interim Corrections Commissioner Jeff Carson. Photo by Rachel Rice for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
ST. LOUIS — The City Justice Center could need as much as $20 million in renovations, including fixes for faulty cell locks, Public Safety Director Dan Isom told a citizen advisory committee on Thursday.
During a meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Capital Expenditures, Isom said about 70% of the $19.5 million requested should go toward cell locks and a new control system for the downtown jail.
Both the city’s capital funds and money from the American Rescue Plan Act could fund the upgrades, according to the city’s budget director, Paul Payne.
Isom said some of the upgrade were necessary because of damage by inmates during multiple uprisings over the past nine months. Residents pressed Isom about making the jail a more humane place for inmates — which they said led to the uprisings — but Isom pushed to prioritize security.
“I would argue if you don’t have control in terms of locks and doors on the facility, then not only is it a danger to corrections officers, it’s a danger to detainees as well,” he said. “Our ability to make sure everyone is safe is our primary responsibility.”
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