Decarcerate St. Louis

 

We are Decarcerate St. Louis, a group of formerly incarcerated St. Louisans and their allies. We are dedicated to ending prisoner abuse and neglect, dismantling mass incarceration, and creating alternatives to imprisonment in the St. Louis region and throughout the state of Missouri.

In order to achieve this goal, we will apply pressure to the powers that be through a combination of direct actions and stakeholder education.

 

Decarcerate STL is the anti-mass incarceration campaign of MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment). We have primarily focused on four main fields of work that are directly affecting marginalized people and communities in the St. Louis area. Those pieces of work include municipal courts, prison profiteers, The Workhouse (MSI) on Hall st., and political engagement. By building our base and building political power through our members, allies, and partnerships, we are effective at affecting change in the St. Louis region.

 

Municipal courts: After outreaching affected individuals at municipal courts from all over the St. Louis area, Decarcerate STL launched mass meetings. The purpose of the meetings was to educate people about how the municipal court system works, and how the historically racist practices have lead them to where they are. After a campaign of public education, outreach, and direct action, members achieved a list of accomplishments including testifying in front a of a Missouri Supreme Court panel on consolidating St. Louis County’s 90 municipalities, and being an influential advocate of MO Senate Bill 5 (2015).

 

Prison Profiteers: In 2015, as part of support for the workhouse campaign, Decarcerate STL began to campaign  to focus on corporations that created profits from mass incarceration. In doing this, it was discovered that Enterprise Holdings (Proprietor of Enterprise Car Rentals) owned Keefe Group. Keefe, being a commissary company that not only does business in MSI, but in jails and prisons across the country. After numerous direct actions, organizing around mass incarceration, and teach-ins, Decarcerate STL not only forced Enterprise out of ALEC, but also forced them to sell Keefe Group completely.

 

The Workhouse: Starting in 2015, Decarcerate STL was born out of a campaign of organizing formerly incarcerated individuals and other members of the community. After listening to the stories of people locked up inside of a city jail known as The Workhouse or MSI (Medium Security Institution), the campaign was started. Decarcerate STL has been organizing across St. Louis around shutting down the facility, the site of many human rights abuses, and sub-standard living conditions. The campaign has focused on advocating for the complete elimination of cash bail in St. Louis City, decriminalization of homelessness, and complete closure of the facility. This has succeeded through partnerships with other local organizations like Arch City Defenders, cultivating relationships with elected officials, hosting some of the most influential debates, townhalls, and other engagement events in the city. Most recently, Decarcerate STL has worked with other local groups to release a report which proves a financially feasible way to reduce populations in MSI, eliminate cash bail, divest from arrest and incarcerate, and invest in field social workers embedded inside of the police department.

 

For more information, or to join Decarcerate STL, feel free to email decarceratestl@organizemo.org