Cases of inmate suicides, abuse and neglect in St. Louis jails have American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) officials calling for an independent investigation of the system.
The latest suicide involved 29-year-old inmate, David C. Dalton, who was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell Monday evening. Dalton had been incarcerated since May, waiting to go on trial for robbery. His death came just hours after he found out that he would still go back to prison even with a plea deal reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The city’s corrections officials insisted that they followed proper protocol for supervision and that since Dalton wasn’t on suicide watch, he was allowed to have a sheet in his cell.
In another case, 18-year-old Joshua Turner, behind bars for damaging property at the Boys and Girls Town, was on suicide watch and was still able to get his hands on a sheet to hang himself in January of 2008, when an employee stuffed it under the door of his cell.
“Given recent revelations, the St. Louis community cannot rely on an internal investigation to uncover all the facts,” said Redditt Hudson, one of the people who prepared the ACLU report, in a release. “The ACLU of Eastern Missouri calls on independent authorities to investigate this death and the pattern of abuse and neglect which appears to exist in our jails.”
The 67-page report released last month by the ACLU titled “Suffering in Silence: Human Rights Abuses in St. Louis Correctional Centers,” details more reported cases of abuse in the system over the course of a year-long investigation, including poor living conditions, sexual misconduct and extended jail time, reports the Defender.
“We have an inmate in this report that describes witnessing an assault on another inmate by a correctional officer that was so sadistic that the inmate urinated blood as a result of the assault,” Hudson said, reports the Chicago Defender. “Those are the kinds of things that really demand that a sane and just society take action.”
LaVonda Kimble, in jail for traffic violations, died from an asthma attack hours after she was incarcerated. A report by the St. Louis Fire Department said that incompetence and poor medical treatment might have played a role in her death.
The program director for the Eastern Missouri’s ACLU, John Chasnoff, said the report had been sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.