Metro Corrections investigating alleged retaliation against whis - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Corrections investigating alleged retaliation against whistleblower

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton has opened up an investigation into allegations of harassment and retaliation against an officer who complained that a supervisor forced him to release a home incarceration inmate without the approval of a judge.

In February, Officer Mark Frech complained that Capt. Dawn Thompson ordered him to allow inmate Joe Toohey to be released from home incarceration to go see his father in a nursing home.

Toohey, who is facing burglary charges, had only been granted work release by a Jefferson Circuit Court judge.

After an internal investigation, Bolton acknowledged Thompson "messed up" and she was disciplined. In addition, Bolton said a wider examination of the home incarceration program revealed that other Metro Corrections officers have, for years, been improperly releasing home incarceration inmates, without the approval of judges, to run errands and go see family among other outings.

Bolton promised to crack down on the releases and provide staffers with additional training.

Last month, Frech filed a grievance claiming Thompson improperly denied him some earned pay, "orchestrated a negative" performance review and "micro-managed" him, according to jail records obtained by WDRB.

In a March 31 response to Frech’s complaints, Bolton wrote that the jail would pay Frech the money he is owed, have another official look over his review and open up an internal investigation into Thompson's alleged retaliation.

Metro Corrections officials did not immediately respond to questions about Thompson, including whether she is on leave while the investigation is pending.

Thompson, who received counseling and a letter of corrective action for the initial improper release, has been with Metro Corrections for about 19 years. WDRB has requested an interview with Thompson through a Metro Corrections spokesman.

After the larger investigation into the HIP program, Bolton said he could not say how many times inmates were improperly released but that it was clear some officers were "coloring outside the lines" in allowing outings not approved by judges.

Home incarceration inmates are often given releases by judges to go to work or look for a job. Several judges said they did not know Metro Corrections was allowing releases for other reasons.

As a result, some judges began issuing home incarceration orders that specify exactly what an inmate is allowed to be released for, including specific errands or outings.

After the internal investigation, Thompson wrote an email to Metro Corrections staffers on Feb. 18 saying the "current practice of allowing inmates who have releases to go to places they don't have a specific court order for shall no longer be allowed."

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