Originally a small group of formerly incarcerated individuals doing advocacy work in St. Louis, Decarcerate has since grown exponentially into MORE’s campaign arm advocating for criminal justice reform and working against mass incarceration in the St. Louis region.
Falling in step with MORE’s theory of change, Decarcerate St. Louis is very committed to contesting the corporate, and political entities that are deeply entrenched within the criminal justice system for power on behalf of the people in the St. Louis area. This commitment is shown throughout the three main bodies of work within Decarcerate. The bodies of work within Decarcerate STL are: The Enterprise Campaign, the campaign to close the medium security institution at 7600 Hall St. (The Workhouse), and Court Monitoring.
The Enterprise Campaign- In the spring of 2015, in conjunction with Power Behind the Police strategy, we launched our campaign against Enterprise Holdings, headed by St. Louis 1 percenter Andrew Taylor. This campaign was launched to highlight Enterprise’s profiteering from the prison industrial complex via the subsidiary company they own, Keefe Group. It is through Keefe Group, that Enterprise reaps the benefits from services ranging from commissary products provided to prisons, all the way down to phone calls and the money transaction systems that inmate’s families are forced to use while prices are gouged every step along the way.
The Workhouse Campaign- The campaign to close the workhouse is a continuing piece of work that dates back all the way to Decarcerate STL’s very beginning. Also known as “The Workhouse”, the medium security institution on Hall st. is one of St. Louis’ most infamous dirty little secrets. With inmate testimonies recounting the terrible conditions and experiences inside the facility ranging from asbestos, freezing conditions in the winter, sweltering conditions in the summer, and even inmates being forced by guards to have gladiator fights. We are committed to challenging the power structure in St. Louis, and getting this institution closed permanently.
Court monitoring- Since the release of the Ferguson report by the dept. of justice, St. Louis county’s municipal courts have been highlighted for excessive traffic ticketing and predatory for-profit court practices. In response to this, senate bill 5 was passed, thus eliminating failure to appear charges, and jail time for not being able to pay traffic tickets, in addition to limiting the amount of revenue municipalities can gain from ticketing. Decarcerate STL has since launched a court monitoring program to watch the implementation of SB5 in St. Louis county’s courts.