Guard Held Hostage By Inmates At St. Louis Jail, Reports Say


Inmates at a downtown St. Louis jail took a guard hostage for several hours Tuesday morning, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, an incident that marks continued troubles for the local jail.

Key Facts

A 70-year-old male corrections officer, who was not armed, was held by inmates on the fourth floor of the City Justice Center before later being freed, according to the Post-Dispatch and local TV station KMOV, citing the police.

Police said it wasn’t immediately clear if the guard, who has not been publicly named, was injured, but reporters saw a man wearing a guard’s uniform, who was conscious but “looked haggard,” being carried out by medics in a stretcher around 8:30 a.m.

Police told the Post-Dispatch there was no riot and the incident did not advance outside the fourth floor, but they did not disclose how many inmates were involved or what demands the inmates might’ve had.

The St. Louis Department of Public Safety told the Post-Dispatch that “the Correction Division is aware of the situation and is investigating the area now.”

Forbes has reached out to the St. Louis Department of Public Safety for comment.

Key Background

The City Justice Center held 675 inmates as of Tuesday morning, according to the city website. The jail has had disturbances and issues in the past, including in February 2021, when about 115 inmates beat up a guard and seized control of the jail’s fourth floor from guards before setting fires, breaking windows and hurling furniture and flaming debris onto the street below. Again in April 2021, detainees busted out windows facing city hall on the jail’s third floor, threw plastic stools and metal appliances onto the street below and shouted “we want court dates,” the Riverfront Times reported. During the pandemic, many courts were shut down, causing cases to be delayed to the chagrin of pretrial inmates awaiting a verdict.


With 1.9 million people nationwide, the U.S. locks up more people per capita than any other country in the world, according to data compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative. Of those 1.9 million people, 514,000 of them are in local jails like St. Louis’ City Justice Center. Jails tend to house people awaiting a trial or people who have been sentenced to less than a year of incarceration. Those with more than a year tend to go to state or federal prisons. Of the 514,000 inmates in local jails, 427,000 have not yet been convicted of a crime and are simply awaiting trial. Violence in jails and prisons is a nationwide issue: Last year, the federal Bureau of Prisons imposed a lockdown at all of its facilities after two inmates were killed.

Further Reading

Inmates at City Justice Center took guard hostage, police say (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

First Alert 4 captures guard being taken out of Justice Center after hostage situation (KMOV)

Detainees Take Guard Hostage at St. Louis City Justice Center (The Riverfront Times)

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