A Missouri Representative has suggested a lawsuit could be brought against the state for failing to respond to inhumane conditions at a jail.

Representative Josh Peters (D-St. Louis) Photo courtesy; MIssouri House website

Democrat Joshua Peters of St. Louis contends Missouri had a responsibility to address issues last summer at a facility in the city known as The Workhouse because state prisoners were incarcerated there.

Peters assessment comes as a lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court against the city, claiming prisoners held in the jail had their civil rights violated.

The nonprofit legal organization ArchCity Defenders alleges the city violated the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments in their treatment of prisoners.

In a statement, Peters described the environment last summer inside the unairconditioned jail as a “virtual oven”.  The city eventually spent $40,000 on portable air conditioning units.

At the time, Peters said inmates also suffered from unsanitary conditions and poor treatment, noting the poorest residents were disproportionately harmed because they couldn’t make bail.

He said there was a lack of speedy access to public defenders who are overburdened.

Peters claims the state seems to have “washed their hands of responsibility” for conditions at The Workhouse, and said Monday that if they continue to do so, then a lawsuit may need to be brought against Missouri.

In his statement, Peters referenced a 1990 federal case which he thinks addressed many of the same issues that inmates at the jail face today.

In the case, known as Tyler v. United States, the court ordered numerous reforms to be made at the Workhouse, including the transfer of all inmates sentenced to state prisons not more than 10 days after the imposition of sentence.