ACLU Sues City of St. Louis Seeking Jail Documents
ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The American Civil Liberties Union files suit against the city of St. Louis for alleged failure to turn over documents in compliance with the state’s open records law.
The ACLU claims it has been seeking since September a written copy of the grievance policy for inmates in the city jails.
“We have a concern that the rules aren’t being followed, but we don’t know what the rules are because they won’t tell us,” said Tony Rothert, Legal Director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.
Rothert says inmates have been complaining to the ACLU that when they file complaints about problems in the jails nothing ever comes of it.
The lawsuit follows a breakdown in communication between the ACLU and the city corrections department, after the city removed Corrections Commissioner Gene Stubblefield in the fall.
“I think at the very least it suggests there’s a little bit of chaos in the operation of the jails at this time,” Rothert said.
From a legal standpoint establishing the city’s grievance policy for inmates would be a prerequisite to filing lawsuits on behalf of inmates against the city.
“If you file a lawsuit without filing a grievance, your lawsuit will be dismissed in a minute,” Rothert said.
The city released a statement claiming it would have released the desired document if ACLU Program Director John Chasnoff had telephoned for them.
The Mayor’s office released a statement on behalf of City Counselor Patti Hageman:
“The City Counselor’s office is not in infrequent contact with Mr. Chasnoff. We would have hoped that he would have picked up the phone or contacted the law department instead of filing a lawsuit over a simple misunderstanding. “