On Monday, Nov. 25, a press conference was held at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center off Carondelet Avenue in Clayton to announce a new initiative to provide education opportunities for inmates.
The partnership between St. Louis County Justice Services and the St. Louis County Library is designed to not only provide library resources to the inmates during detention, but also provide a seamless transition into other library services once they are released.
“Making library assets more readily available will help ease some obstacles individuals face after being released from incarceration,” County Executive Sam Page said. “It’s another way to treat those in our custody with dignity and respect and prepare them for a brighter future.”
While in custody, individuals will now have access to a larger and more varied supply of library materials, available at different reading levels. The reading materials will also be refreshed monthly. Then, upon release, those individuals interested will have the option to obtain a library card and access to resources that may be vital in preventing them from repeating past mistakes or offenses.
“We look forward to working with the Justice Center on efforts to reduce recidivism in St. Louis County,” Library Director Kristen Sorth said. “Libraries offer important resources for all members of the community and can be of particular help to those who are struggling.”
Computer classes and an online high school program will be available to participants. Online tools for job searching and assistance is another key feature of the program.
“We are excited about this partnership, creating educational opportunities for those in our care and providing opportunities upon release to help chart a successful future,” Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, acting director of Justice Services, said.
This new initiative comes at an important juncture for the County’s Justice Services. Doyle’s tenure as acting director will soon be giving way to the newly hired Director of Justice Services, Raul Banasco.
Banasco brings to St. Louis County a wealth of experience.
He’s been a jail administrator in San Antonio and Ft. Worth, Texas. In 2016, the Jail Administrator Association recognized him as the Jail Administrator of the Year.