This article is 5 years old. It was published on July 22, 2017.
Updated at 4:30pm on 7.22.2017
The City has placed orders for portable air conditioning units to be installed at the Medium Security Institution (MSI) located at 7600 North Hall Street. Five units ranging from 25 tons to 50 tons will be installed to bring relief to the older sections of the facility that lack air conditioning. Every effort will be made to bring each unit on-line as soon as possible, so that relief will be phased in through the week. The City expects that all five units will be on-line by the end of the week. Engineers report that they expect the units will be able to sustain a temperature of 78 degrees inside the dorms.
"I support air conditioning at MSI for the health and safety of everyone who is in that jail," said Mayor Lyda Krewson. "Once my administration determined that temporary air conditioning was a viable solution, I ordered that temporary air conditioning units be installed as soon as possible."
MSI was built in 1966. Many of its dorms have operated for over 50 years without air conditioning. Currently, as many people as possible are housed in the air-conditioned sections of the facility, including all women and medically-sensitive citizens.
The City in recent years has tried to find funds for a permanent fix. Voters narrowly rejected a civic infrastructure bond issue in August of 2015 that would have funded permanent air conditioning at the jail. Since then, the City has worked within its budget to try to improve conditions.
One of the most important things the City has done is to upgrade the electric service at the site so that additional air conditioning could be supported. That work, which cost about $200,000, was completed this past spring. Before that, it would have been impossible to install temporary air conditioning.
Last night, protesters demonstrated at MSI. While peaceful protest is a fundamental right, several demonstrators damaged and breached the exterior perimeter fence, which is being repaired today. Breaching the perimeter of a jail is a crime and an inherently dangerous act that puts the safety of others, including everyone in the jail, at risk. Two police officers were injured while working to keep the peace. The City is taking immediate steps to air-condition the facility. We urge the small number of disruptive demonstrators to consider the safety of their fellow citizens inside and outside the facility.
Again, we urge all citizens to check on their neighbors and loved ones and to help each other during this heat wave.
Published on 7/21/2017
Mayor Krewson's Statement on MSI
On access to air conditioning at the Medium Security Institution (MSI) at 7600 North Hall Street
The high temperatures have raised concerns for all citizens in St. Louis, particularly those who do not have access to air conditioning. As has been well-reported, this includes some areas of the Medium Security Institution (MSI) located at 7600 North Hall Street.
MSI houses citizens who have been charged by the Circuit Attorney's office; assigned bail by a 22nd Judicial Circuit judge; and have not or cannot post bail prior to their court date. Currently, as many people as possible are housed in the air-conditioned sections of the facility, including all women and medically-sensitive citizens.
When temperatures climb, the City’s Corrections Division takes immediate action to mitigate the effects for those not housed in air-conditioned parts of the building. Those actions parallel recommendations given to all City residents during periods of prolonged heat:
- Rotating citizens into the air-conditioned portions of MSI
- Use of fans and cold towels
- Hourly supply of water and ice, and intermittent supply of sports drinks
- Monitoring of recreation areas to check for overexertion
- Limiting physical activity
- Education regarding heat dangers
In 2015, City voters rejected a bond issue that would have funded infrastructure improvements throughout the City, including installing air conditioning at MSI. In the absence of those funds, the City and its Corrections Division have taken several alternative actions aimed at long-term improvements at MSI:
- The facility’s air-conditioned areas are being renovated to significantly increase their capacity so that citizens can be moved from non-air-conditioned units to air-conditioned units
- The Division has sought bids for the cost of repairing windows and purchasing air-conditioning units throughout the older sections of the building
- Passage of Ordinance 70536 in the spring, establishing "a charity bail fund to assist certain non-violent defendants in posting bail as allowed by the Court"
- The facility’s electrical service was upgraded in the spring to prepare the older sections of the building to support more air conditioning in the future
The mayor's office is committed to working with the Circuit Attorney's Office and the 22nd Judicial Court to more efficiently move people through our justice system to reduce the population in MSI.
We urge all citizens to check on their neighbors and loved ones and to help each other.