October 03, 2023

Congresswoman Bush Urges St. Louis City Justice Center Commissioner to Address Jail Conditions Amid Recent Deaths


In her letter, Bush calls for “immediate shift in the culture, policies, and practices of the CJC”


St. Louis, Mo. (Oct. 3, 2023) — Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) sent a letter to St. Louis Commissioner of Corrections Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah expressing serious concerns regarding the conditions and treatment of detainees and staff at St. Louis City Justice Center (CJC). This letter comes after Congresswoman Bush visited CJC on September 8, 2023, and in light of three recent deaths at the facility.

“I was deeply troubled by the apparent and continuing issues regarding conditions at the facility and the treatment of detainees and staff,” wrote Congresswoman Bush. “These grave concerns have only been amplified in light of the most recent death of a CJC detainee over the weekend, marking the third death within ten weeks, and tenth overall in the last two years. This letter outlines several of these issues, which must be a top priority for [the Commissioner] and other City officials. This situation is a crisis and it is imperative you respond with the urgency it merits.”

Further in the letter, Congresswoman Bush continued, “Unfortunately, the tragic deaths at the facility and these other pressing issues have generated significant public distrust in CJC leadership. This is a matter of urgent priority and I strongly request that you initiate an immediate shift in the culture, policies, and practices of the CJC to ensure that the rights of staff and detainees alike are upheld.” 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

Congresswoman Bush requested a response to this letter by November 2, 2023. The concerns that Congresswoman Bush laid out include the:

  • Delivery of timely and adequate medical care;
  • Equal access to basic needs and services;
  • Use of solitary confinement;
  • Use of force; and
  • Physical safety of correctional staff and people in custody.

Today’s letter is the latest action the Congresswoman has taken with regard to the City Justice Center. Shortly after being sworn in, Congresswoman Bush sent a letter to former Mayor Lyda Krewson calling on the City to take steps to increase transparency regarding the conditions at its jails, COVID-19 protocols, and ensure the safety and rights of individuals being held in these facilities are protected. In April 2021, Congresswoman Bush, alongside then newly elected Mayor Tishaura Jones, former St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, attorneys, and advocates, visited the CJC to hear directly from detainees and staff after a series of uprisings at the local jail.