ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It has been almost two years since any St. Louis City jail inmates escaped, but that doesn’t mean they are not trying.
City Operations Director Eddie Roth, who until January served as Public Safety Director over the Corrections Division, said recent escape plans have been discovered and thwarted, despite ongoing problems with high inmate population and staff shortages, blamed for a spate of four escapes in 2011.
“Nobody got outside the fence, or on the fence or anything like that,” Roth said. “It’s been more in terms of starting to destroy reinforced areas, chipping away at window areas or trying to get through walls, that type of thing.”
Roth spoke with KMOX at a public safety committee hearing of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, where corrections officials testified there are thirty staff openings, the same number of vacancies cited in 2011 when four inmates busted out.
In 2011, then-Public Safety Director Charles Bryson also testified there were too many inmates – 1,900 – the same size of the inmate population today.
To fill vacancies, nine additional staff are expected to be hired later this month and they hope to fill all vacancies in April, officials testified.
To lower inmate numbers, Roth wants swifter justice.
“We need our court system and justice system to quicken its metabolism and move these cases through,” Roth said, “providing due process, but being mindful of the pressure this population puts on the city not just financially, but also in terms of security and safety.”