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Workhouse, civil rights, City of St. Louis, arrest-and-incarcerate, unconstitutional


The City of St. Louis condemns hundreds of mostly poor and Black people to suffer in unspeakably hellish and inhumane conditions at the "Workhouse," officially known as the Medium Security Institution. Over 95% of people at the Workhouse are awaiting trial and remain incarcerated due to their inability to afford unusually high and unconstitutional cash bonds. They face horrific conditions in the jail, including extreme heat and cold, abysmal medical care, rats and cockroach infestations, and mold. The City of St. Louis spends over $16 million every year operating this facility with little public benefit. The arrest-and-incarcerate approach to public safety targeting the poor and Black communities in St. Louis not only ruins lives, but also does not make the city safer. The Workhouse represents one facet of a broader system of criminalization and marginalization in St. Louis.


Prof. Voss is a co-founder of and former litigator with ArchCity Defenders of St. Louis, Missouri, a law firm specializing in civil rights practice.