City Agreement Comes Shortly After Court Granted Temporary Restraining Order Against Jail
March 26, 2021
Today in federal court, the City of St. Louis committed to doing the right thing for Anthony Tillman, a 40-year old man who was denied a wheelchair-accessible shower for over 160 days while detained in the City Justice Center. The City has agreed to provide Mr. Tillman with an accessible shower, including the equipment and assistance he needs to safely transfer to and from the shower and to bathe difficult to reach areas.
“I’m grateful that the attorneys at ArchCity Defenders, MacArthur Justice Center, Rights Behind Bars, and Saint Louis University Legal Clinics were here to help me get the shower, assistance, and equipment I need. Although the physical showers are not ADA-compliant, I am still humbled by the fact that I am at least getting a shower. I still feel like I’m getting retaliated against, because I was brave enough to speak out about the harsh behavior and inhumane practices that go on inside the CJC,” said Anthony Tillman. “With me taking a stand, hopefully in the future their practices will change and someone else with paraplegia will not have to go through what I went through. Again, I’m thankful for my attorneys helping me to have my voice heard.”
While we are elated for Mr. Tillman, the injustices and abuses within St. Louis’ criminal legal system remains immense, and we remain committed to advocating for direct and systemic change. More work remains to be done on behalf of Mr. Tillman and others detained at the City Justice Center. For example, an inspection conducted this week by Mr. Tillman’s legal team revealed that the shower the City held out to be accessible is actually not ADA compliant. Mr. Tillman’s case also highlights systemic issues with the jail’s grievance process, a confusing and ineffective system that operates as a roadblock to redressing detainees’ concerns about conditions at the jail.
Mr. Tillman filed a lawsuit against the City on March 9, 2021, after his attempts to secure reasonable accommodations through the jail’s grievance process went unanswered. On March 18, a federal judge granted Mr. Tillman’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, requiring the City to immediately provide him with a wheelchair accessible shower for the following 14 days. Click here to read the memo and order.
Mr. Tillman has since been provided a shower and the assistance he needs to safely transfer to and from his wheelchair. Mr. Tillman filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on March 23, 2021, to extend his access to the shower beyond the originally ordered 14 days.
To read the stipulation filed with the court today, click here.
This lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal advocacy efforts to confront the inhumanity and unlawful abuses inflicted upon detainees at the two jails in St. Louis City: CJC and the Workhouse. It comes less than two months after the Mayor’s Office publicly denied any concerns with the jail.
Yet, since December 2020, ArchCity Defenders have received hundreds of calls and had over 160 conversations with individuals detained at CJC and the Workhouse and their loved ones on their toll-free “jail hotline”. Callers have repeatedly reported various inhumane conditions such as inclement temperatures, violence and retaliation from jail guards, lack of food, water, and medical care, as well as the absence of COVID-safe protocols in both jails.
Rights Behind Bars
Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center
Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinic
Z Gorley, Communications Director, ArchCity Defenders