St. Charles was founded in 1791. Since that time, there have been approximately six county jails; today, the jail is referred to as the Adult Detention Facility.
Origins of the Jail
The first jail on record for St. Charles County was located at 514 S. Main St. in 1804. The jail was a one-room stone structure with one diamond-shaped window for ventilation, which the inmates referred to as the “ace of diamonds.” One of the first prisoners of this jail was an Osage Native American arrested for drunkenness. The jailer was Mackey Wherry.
From 1821 to 1826, there were two jails located in “Stone Row.” These jails were the state jail and the city jail. The state jail was located at 324 S. Main St., and the city jail was at 318 S. Main St. Prisoners were brought to the jails by boat on the Missouri River.
In 1827, Sheriff Henry Mills established a whipping post and pillory at 119 N. Main St. This was used for punishment of minor violations.
Tornado of 1876
The next county jail was built on south Main Street in 1832. It was located at the corner of Main and Pike streets. The overall size of this jail was 24 feet by 36 feet and was built with rocks ranging 3-4 feet in length and 2 feet thick. This jail was used as both a county and city jail.
This jail was used until a historic “cyclone” hit St. Charles on Feb. 27, 1876. The “cyclone” damaged the jail beyond repair. There were eight prisoners incarcerated at the time and they owed their lives to the bars that separated them from the rest of society. It is reported that the roof was blown off and landed one block away. The walls were also blown away leaving the inmates’ cells exposed. There were only minor injuries sustained by the inmates.
With the destruction of the jail built in 1832, a new jail was built at the corner of Second and Madison streets. This jail was a one-story, one-room, stone jailhouse. Eventually, this jail would be sold to Mike Hausaum and J. Evans for $55. They in turn paid $200 to have the building torn down.
In 1911, the fifth jail of record was built on 120 S. Second St. The cost of this building including furniture, etc. was $32,742.61. The capacity of this jail was 44 prisoners. By the 1960s, conditions of the jail began to deteriorate, and in 1974, the jail was deemed inadequate. The jail was labeled as “Dante’s Hell” by Missouri Supreme Court Justice Robert Seiler. Six court-ordered hangings took place there before hanging was outlawed in 1935. The gallows were located on the second level after taking the “Traditional Thirteen Steps.” This jail was abandoned in 1989 upon completion of the current Justice Center Facility located on 301 N. Second St. It cost $34,470 to demolish the old jail in 1995.
Adult Detention Facility
On Jan. 7, 1989, the first 52 prisoners were moved from the old jail to the new Adult Detention Facility located within the St. Charles County Justice Center. The new center cost approximately $22 million with a capacity of 220 prisoners. The Justice Center was then home to the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department, Juvenile Justice Center and the St. Charles County Emergency Management Agency. The facility, as built, was predicted to meet the needs of the county until 2010. The average daily population of the Adult Detention Facility in 1989 was 90.3.
The Adult Detention Facility was considered a separate bureau of the Sheriff’s Department until 1995 when the facility became a separate entity known as the St. Charles County Department of Corrections under the leadership of Colonel Alan B. Stahl. This separation was done in an effort to provide a more safe and secure environment for the detention of inmates and detainees by providing a more specialized environment for corrections. The County’s corrections facility is the third largest facility in the State of Missouri.
Increasing the Capacity
In an effort to deal with the increasing population over the years, several units were double-bunked. In 1995, two units were double-bunked increasing capacity to 230. In 1997, another unit was double-bunked increasing capacity to 254. Finally, in 1998, an additional unit was double-bunked resulting in a capacity of 278. In 2000, a new housing unit was added to the existing facility at a cost of $2,107,158. This new unit added 22 cells, further increasing the Adult Detention Facility's capacity to 300.
In 2009, the St. Charles County Department of Corrections was expanded again to use space left unoccupied after the Sheriff's Department and Juvenile Detention Department vacated the Justice Center to new locations. Expansion to those areas increased the overall capacity of the Adult Detention Facility to 516.