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Overcrowded St. Louis Jails lead to More Overtime, Costs

In the past few decades, jail and prison populations have soared throughout the country. At the St. Louis County Justice Center, overcrowding has also become a problem. According to officials and officers at the downtown Clayton jail, overcrowding has resulted in the need for increased overtime hours for corrections officers, as well as extra government costs.

The jail first opened in 1998 and was designed to hold 1,200 inmates. This year, the jail population has averaged roughly 1,300 inmates. Some inmates are forced to sleep on makeshift beds on the floor. The need for corrections officers working more hours has resulted in $900,000 in paid overtime. The higher population, according to jail administrators, has also created more problems with keeping order, higher costs for health care and food, and higher staff turnover.

Overburdened Public Defenders

Another problem with a bursting criminal justice system has come from overburdened public defenders who represent an estimated three-quarters of jail inmates. With large caseloads, public defenders are often unable to address cases in a timely manner. Court delays are contributing to an overcrowded system.

Although there are many factors at play – including stiff sentencing guidelines for nonviolent drug offenders that has only recently been addressed – local officials are proposing plans for private lawyers. Their hope is to speed up the court process and decrease jail population.

Working with Experienced St. Louis Criminal Attorneys

Overburdened public defenders should make accused individuals focused on working with experienced attorneys who have the ability to provide the personalized attention and representation they need. At the Hammer Law Firm, LLC, our St. Louis criminal defense lawyers are committed to working with clients on an individual basis. Our legal team also works to guide clients swiftly through court proceedings as we fight for their future.

If you or your loved one has been charged with a criminal offense in St. Louis or any of the surrounding communities of Missouri, learn more about the ways in which our firm can help during a free case evaluation. Contact us for your free consultation.


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