Unsafe 1950s Louisville jail closed as inmate population falls - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Unsafe 1950s Louisville jail closed as inmate population falls

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Corrections has moved dozens of inmates out of an illegal jail built in the 1950s that was being utilized because of overcrowding at the main facility.

While the inmate population has "dipped enough to temporarily shut down" the old jail above Louisville Metro Police headquarters, jail officials will open it back up "when we absolutely need to do that," said Steve Durham, a spokesman for Metro Corrections.

Just a few months ago, the 60-year-old former jail itself had reached capacity (126 inmates) and Metro Corrections officials began preparing to move inmates into temporary housing in gyms at both the jail and the Hall of Justice downtown.

But on Aug. 5, the old jail was shut down and remains closed this week because the population has fallen from 2,146 in June to 2,027 on Monday. 

Though deemed unsafe by state officials -- it lacks fire safety systems and has failed to meet state certification requirements for decades -- the former jail above Louisville Metro Police headquarters had been used since April to alleviate overcrowding in Metro Corrections. 

The old jail, which was closed completely in 2008, is still in violation of state standards, and, according to a past state inspection, is "a considerable threat to the safety of the inmates that are housed there" and an accident "waiting to happen."

Inmate capacity at Metro Corrections is 1,793, including 370 beds in the Hall of Justice at Sixth and Jefferson streets and 440 beds at the Community Corrections Center, a minimum-security facility on East Chestnut Street.

In an email Monday to metro jail commission members -- including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and corrections experts -- Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said there were 2,027 inmates in his system, still above a 1,900-inmate limit suggested by the commission.

In looking for ways to lower the jail population, Bolton noted in the email that there was openings in the "Day Reporting Center" that allows up to 75 inmates convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors to remain out of jail under certain conditions.

And other programs, such as home incarceration, also have available space, Bolton wrote.

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