ACLU is Asking the Next Mayor to Close the Workhouse, Increase Oversight of Police Surveillance and Decriminalize Misdemeanors

St. Louis – The ACLU of Missouri today is urging the two general election St. Louis mayoral candidates, Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer, to commit to specific criminal legal reforms that improve racial disparities throughout the system. These include closing the decaying Workhouse jail, increasing transparency about how police conduct surveillance, and reducing the number of people in jail, especially Black and Brown people, by ending arrests for low-level misdemeanors.  Candidates will receive the policy pledge today and have until March 11 to submit their responses. Surveys will also be sent to each Board of Aldermen candidate in a runoff election. 

 “The next St. Louis mayor will have a significant impact on the city’s criminal legal system which is why we are urging both candidates to commit to tangible, concrete reforms within their first 100 days,” said Luz María Henríquez, Executive Director of the ACLU of Missouri. “We have been advocating for these changes for years so we are prepared to ensure voters know what specific commitments candidates have made before they head to the polls.”

 Specifically, the ACLU of Missouri is asking the incoming mayor to:

  • Press the Board of Aldermen to immediately pass an ordinance that improves transparent and community input and requires Board approval before police can acquire and use surveillance technology like spy planes.
  • Appoint a Director of Public Safety who will close the Workhouse jail which is filthy and decrepit;
  • Reduce the number of people in jail by directing the St. Louis Municipal Police Department to stop making arrests for disorderly conduct, loitering, begging, prostitution, and other low-level misdemeanors;

These reforms will make St. Louis more equitable for all residents.

In advance of the April 6th election, the ACLU will share these criminal legal reform commitments with St. Louis voters through digital, TV and radio ads, as well as direct outreach by text messages, phone calls and mail. Voters will also be able to access their answers at The ACLU does not endorse or support candidates but will provide voters with the facts they need to make an informed decision at the ballot box.