Close the Workhouse Campaign

The City of St. Louis daily condemns hundreds of presumptively innocent people to suffer in unspeakably hellish and inhumane conditions at the Workhouse. St. Louis City’s Medium Security Institution (MSI) infamously inherited the name “the Workhouse” as detainees in earlier versions of the jail were sentenced to forced labor when they could not afford to pay their fines. Today, people routinely remain incarcerated due to their inability to afford unconstitutionally high cash bails. The vast majority of people held at the Workhouse are awaiting trial and remain caged and criminalized due to their poverty. They face horrific conditions in the jail, including extreme heat and cold, abysmal medical care, rats and cockroach infestations, and mold.

The Close the Workhouse campaign is a grassroots movement made up of directly impacted people and allies united with the common goal of permanently closing the Workhouse and ensuring a new jail is not built in its place.

Launched in Spring 2018, the Campaign released a Plan to Close the Workhouse and Promote a New Vision for St. Louis in Fall 2018. A second report and Plan to Close the Workhouse was released in January 2019.

ArchCity Defenders, The Bail Project, and Action St. Louis are the founding organizations of the Close the Workhouse campaign.

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