Inmates Without Air Conditioning Yell For Help From Inside Sweltering Jail

Video of the incident in St. Louis prompted calls for immediate reforms.

Disturbing footage from outside a St. Louis jail shows inmates without air conditioning calling for help in the stiflingly hot facility.

Fox2Now reporter Elliot Davis shot the video on Tuesday outside the Medium Security Institution, known colloquially as the “workhouse.” Men inside the facility can be heard yelling “help us!” and “we ain’t got no AC!” through the windows.

Davis said in a follow-up video that inmates and jail staff have both complained about the miserably hot conditions.

The jail, which was holding 770 inmates as of last month, is mostly without air conditioning, the local paper The Riverfront Times reports.

This week, the National Weather Service issued a dangerous heat wave warning for the area, citing temperatures ranging from the low 90s to more than 100 degrees.

St. Louis Public Radio on Wednesday said that temperatures inside the jail are typically five to 10 degrees warmer than the temperature outside.

On Wednesday, State. Rep. Joshua Peters (D) called for the Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson to create a commission to examine conditions at the jail, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to warning about the extreme heat, Peters noted that he had personally observed “mold in dining facilities” and “infestations of insects and vermin,” according to a letter he wrote on Wednesday to Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed announced Thursday that he was seeking emergency cooling options.

In the meantime, St. Louis Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass says that he has developed a plan to deal with the heat at the decades-old jail, telling local CBS affiliate KMOV that inmates can be rotated into cool areas like the dining hall and library, and that medical help is available for anyone who needs it.

“I’ll do what I can with the resources I have and my main objective is to make sure that although it’s hot, it’s safe,” Glass said.

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