Judge and Metro Corrections director reach 'common ground' after inmate attire controversy
A district judge who became irate over an inmate's courtroom attire has come to an understanding with the director of the corrections agency responsible for clothing that inmate.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A district judge who became irate over an inmate's courtroom attire has come to an understanding with the director of the corrections agency responsible for clothing that inmate.
According to a statement released by Chief Judge David Holton, Jefferson District Court Judge Amber Wolf met with Mark Bolton, director of Metro Corrections on Tuesday.
"Judge Amber Wolf and Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton had a heartfelt discussion yesterday," Holton's written statement disclosed. "They reached common ground. They are both criminal justice partners committed to working together toward the betterment of our community."
The alleged new understanding comes in the wake of a local controversy that grabbed national headlines. On Friday morning, a female Metro Corrections inmate was brought to Jefferson District Court without a jumpsuit -- and appearing to not be wearing pants -- prompting Judge Amber Wolf to call the jail and ask, "what the hell is going on?"
At the time, an attorney for the woman told Judge Wolf that the jail "refused to give her pants and any kind of hygiene products that she needed," according to a video of the hearing.
The woman, who was in jail for not completing a diversion program on a 2014 shoplifting charge, said she had been in Metro Corrections for days without pants, despite repeated requests.
"Excuse me?” Wolf said. "This is outrageous. Is this for real?"
As the woman and her attorney looked on, Wolf took out her cell phone during the hearing and called to talk with Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton, telling someone she wanted to ask him "why there is a female defendant standing in front of me with no pants on."
Wolf asked court staff to find something to cover the woman with -- "anything, I don't care what it is."
Jail officials said the woman was wearing athletic shorts, which were hidden by a long shirt. Steve Durham, a spokesman for the jail, said the woman had not been in custody long enough to be given a jail jumpsuit.
"This is pretty standard that when individuals are arrested, they remain in the clothing that they’ve been arrested in," Durham said. "Especially for the first 72 hours."
But during the hearing, Metro Corrections Deputy Director Dwayne Clark brought clothing to the woman and told Wolf that she should have been given a jumpsuit.
"Dressed like she was," Clark said, "she should have been changed into a jumpsuit. I gotta look into why she wasn't."
He said he would take necessary steps to correct the issue.
By the time jail officials talked with WDRB, they denied there had been any problem.
Wolf released the woman from jail with time served and a $100 fine. The judge said she had no other charges and should "have been in jail" a day and released.
"Am I in the twilight zone? What is happening?" the judge asked at one point, according to the video.
Before Clark arrived, a visibly upset Wolf told someone at Metro Corrections on her cell phone that the woman had no pants for several days and had no hygiene products, despite requesting both from jail staff.
"What the hell is going on?" Wolf said into the phone. "I’m holding her here until she is dressed appropriately to go back to jail. This is outrageous."
It is unclear from the video what the woman is wearing under a long shirt. She stands behind a podium for most of the hearing, according to a video of her court appearance.
The defense attorney, who is not identified in the hearing, said inmates are also being denied showers.
After the jail brought the woman clothing, Wolf called her back to the bench to apologize.
"This is not normal," she said. "I've never seen it happen. ... This is completely inhumane and unacceptable. I'm sorry you had to go through this."
The woman told the judge there are several woman in jail with similar clothes who were also not given uniforms.
"I don't know if they were picking or choosing" who to give jumpsuits to "or what the criteria is," she said.
But Durham reiterated that the jail does have enough clothing for its inmates, despite overcrowding.
"We’ve never run out of clothing," he said. "We're not having people around here that don’t have appropriate clothing."
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