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Another death at St. Louis jail sparks concerns

August 9, 2018

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Another death at a St. Louis jail is prompting renewed concerns about conditions inside the facility.

Police have not identified the inmate who collapsed just after midnight on Aug. 2, but St. Louis Public Radio reports that relatives identified him as 49-year-old Louis Payton. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Relatives say they are unaware of any medical condition that would have caused the fatal collapse at St. Louis’ Medium Security Institution, known as the Workhouse.

“We still don’t know what really happened to my brother, and I want justice for Louis Payton,” Janice Washington said at a news conference Wednesday called by an organization called Close the Workhouse.

A 2017 lawsuit against the Workhouse cited inhumane living conditions, including mold and rodents. In May, officials found 30-year-old Andre Jones hanging from a bed sheet in his cell in an apparent suicide.

“We are here because there must be no more. No more death and dying in a place that claims to be for the purpose of rehabilitation,” activist Michelle Higgins said.

The police homicide division is investigating Payton’s death. Relatives say they’ve been told little about the circumstances, despite requesting information from police and the coroner’s office.

“What happened to him, we don’t know. We don’t know. And, most likely, we won’t ever really know the truth,” relative Celestine Buford told the small crowd.

City jail records show Payton was arrested on Jan. 25. He was charged with possession of an unlawful firearm, unlawful use of a weapon, and drug-related counts.

Koran Addo, spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, said the city is working to make jails safer and reduce jail population. He said the number of people jailed in St. Louis has declined 12 percent over the past year.


Information from: KWMU-FM, http://news.stlpublicradio.org

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