For the second time in two months, on April 4, detainees in St. Louis’ City Justice Center escaped their cells, broke windows and tossed items into the street. It wasn’t some mastermind hacking the jail’s mainframe, or some revision of the escape at Dannemora from summer 2015.
The locks were broken. That’s it. Everyone got out of their cells and, because there were no working locks, no one could effectively put them back in.
St. Louis isn’t the first busted lock problem. Among the reasons why private prison management company CoreCivic decided last year not to continue its contract with a jail in Tennessee was that the doors had faulty locking mechanisms.
In Arizona, prison locks haven’t worked, according to complaints filed in 2019.
Last year, in Texas, at the Dolph Briscoe Unit, prisoners protested the coronavirus lockdown by letting themselves out of their cells. State Sen. John Whitmire, the Democrat who oversees the Texas Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, told Keri Blakinger, a reporter at The Marshall Project, that replacing or fixing the locks isn’t a financial issue but rather staying ahead of inmates who are smart at circumventing them.