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St. Louis City Justice Center Faces Increased Scrutiny Following Javon White Apparent Suicide

05 Dec 2023, Jail News, by

The St. Louis City Justice Center is grappling with the death of another inmate, Javon White, amid criticism.

St. Louis City Justice Center Faces Increased Scrutiny Following Javon White Apparent Suicide - Inmate Lookup

Javon White, a detainee at the St. Louis City Justice Center, reportedly died on Sunday morning in what authorities are describing as an apparent suicide.

Discovered unconscious in his cell just before 6:10 a.m. by a correctional officer following an alleged suicide attempt, the 34-year-old man later passed away at a hospital, according to Monte Chambers, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Public Safety.

White had sought mental health assistance in September, but there were no indicators necessitating placement on suicide watch, Charles Coyle, the city’s public safety director, mentioned on Monday

Having been in pre-trial detention for 31 months for a murder case, White faced charges of first-degree murder and two counts of assault in April 2021 for the alleged shooting of Chuwn Curtis, 24, in the Walnut Park East neighborhood of St. Louis, resulting in Curtis’s death and injuries to two women.

Vanessa Matthews, White’s mother, and Pamela White, his wife, have called for an external investigation into the circumstances surrounding Javon White’s death. Matthews confirmed that her son was not on suicide watch, expressing skepticism about the idea of him taking his own life, given his strong family connections and aspirations of returning home.

White had four children. Pamela White stated that the last time she communicated with her husband was on Friday.

The City Justice Center, known for pre-trial detainment, has faced scrutiny for its conditions, experiencing inmate uprisings in 2021. The jail witnessed multiple fatalities in recent times, with three occurring two months earlier this summer.

Last week, a new healthcare provider, Physician Correctional USA, took over from the bankrupt Corizon and YesCare. City officials also allowed the jail oversight board, previously denied entry for over a year, to make its first official visit last week.

Public safety director Charles Edward Coyle Sr. stated that the police and the medical examiner’s office are investigating White’s death, acknowledging that a quarter of deaths at the downtown jail since 2000 have been suicides.

Mayor Tishaura Jones expressed condolences to White’s family, expressing concern over any jail death and uncertainty about its preventability, while reiterating confidence in Corrections Commissioner Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah’s leadership.

Jones and Coyle talked with reporters on Monday, following the start of a week-long series of regional meetings targeted at lowering homicides and other violent crimes.