Close the Workhouse - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Close the Workhouse

Kicking off the national movement to end pre-trial detention and end the country’s reliance on incarceration starts on a local, grassroots level.

It’s time to #CloseTheWorkhouse, St. Louis City’s inhumane jail.

The Close the Workhouse campaign is made up of directly impacted people and regional allies in an effort to close the City of St. Louis’ local jail that has a long history of abusive behavior by guards and inadequate medical care. Established in 2018 with the primary goal of permanently closing the Workhouse and ensuring another jail is not built in its place, the campaign is built on an invest-divest framework. Advancement Project National Office works with grassroots partners in St. Louis committed to divert public funding of police, prisons and jails and invest it in the communities most impacted by the criminal legal system to pay for affordable housing, public education, health care, mental health services and job training.

Our January 2019 lawsuit is part of the #CloseTheWorkhouse campaign with the ultimate goal of impacting policy change that will reduce the jail's population enough that it can be closed permanently.

“We are attacking the City of St Louis’ illegal procedures used to jail more than 1,000 people solely because of their inability to make a cash payment to purchase their freedom,” said Thomas Harvey, Senior Attorney and Justice Project Program Director for Advancement Project National Office. “About 95 percent of people locked in the city of St. Louis' cages are held there because of cash bail. There are eight times as many Black detainees as White detainees in the jail, even though the Black population makes up only 47 percent of the City of St. Louis.

“By challenging the overtly illegal policies and practices that lead to so many poor and Black St. Louis residents losing their freedom, our lawsuit and the money used to fund it is reinvested in the most impacted communities,” continued Harvey. “Advancement Project National Office is involved to support our grassroots partners in St. Louis and participate in the national movement to end pretrial detention and end the country’s reliance on incarceration.”

Read the Report: "Close the Workhouse: A Plan to Close the Workhouse & Promote a New Vision for St. Louis" created by the #CloseTheWorkhouse Campaign

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