A riot broke out at a jail in St. Louis, Missouri for the second time in a matter of months after inmates became frustrated with delays in court proceedings as a result of the pandemic.
A number of inmates at the St. Louis Justice Center broke windows, started fires, and threw chairs into the street below during the unrest on Sunday night
Others were heard chanting “we want court dates,” an apparent reference to delays in court appearances and trials caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts told KMOV that around 60 inmates had left their cells during the disorder, with a couple reported to have received minor injuries. There are no reports of prison guards injured during the riot.
A spokesperson for the city told KMOV that there were “two violent and dangerous disturbances” which erupted on two units at the Justice Center on the third floor at around 8:30 p.m.
During the riot, the inmates are said to have become “non-compliant, covered security cameras, smashed windows and destroyed property.”
Order was mainly restored at around 10:30 p.m., although some inmates once again began smashing windows shortly after this time.
This is the second time in just a few months that disturbances have broken out at the St. Louis jail.
In February, around 115 inmates took control of the fourth floor of the Justice Center.
It was reported at the time that the inmates were able to take advantage of the cell’s faulty locks to break out and cause destruction, with COVID-19 related delays also blamed for the frustrations of the prisoners.
The disorder resulted in a report from the city’s Jail Task Force, which found that increased confinement times and short-staffing contributed to the riot breaking out.
A number of officials have condemned St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and other departments following the latest violence at the jail.
Missouri State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge tweeted that there have been “no changes to right these significant wrongs” since the last uprising.
“I look forward to working with the next administration to address the concerns of the detainees and to make the facility safe for all who are in it,” Aldridge said.
St. Louis Treasurer and mayoral candidate Tishaura Jones added: “There is an immediate need for change in our city’s justice system. Uprisings at our jails should not become the norm, and this is unacceptable.
“We need a clear chain of command—and the buck must stop at the Mayor’s desk.
“We need to get serious about moving pre-trial detainees out of our jails, vaccinating our inmates, and creating a new culture of justice in Saint Louis.”
Mayor Krewson’s office has been contacted for comment.