Overcrowded and Understaffed: Inside Louisville Metro Correction - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Overcrowded and Understaffed: Inside Louisville Metro Corrections

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Louisville Metro Corrections is overcrowded and understaffed, and there's no easy fix for either issue.

Twenty-seven corrections officers will graduate from training next month, but it is still not enough to fill around 60 open jobs and handle so many inmates.

A source inside the jail, who wants to remain anonymous, sent pictures to WDRB showing the overcrowded conditions of inmates sleeping on the floor and even on tables.

Tracy Dotson, who represents all sworn members of the Louisville Metro Corrections Department, says it is a safety issue.

"It's like a minefield in there. Are we going to trip over this guy trying to address this issue and hurt ourselves or hurt an inmate?" 

Director of the jail, Mark Bolton, echoes the concerns.

"With this crowding that we're seeing here, certainly it's taxing our resources and taxing our ability to manage things safely," Bolton said.
 
Dotson says another problem is that they do not have enough officers. He says average pay and a dangerous work environment is running officers off. He says six officers who graduated from training in May have already quit.

"They're frustrated, they're tired, they're not seeing their families, they're basically living to work," Dotson said.

There were about 20 open jobs in the spring, but now there are about 60. Because of that, Dotson says on any given day, 30-50 people could be forced into overtime. Some officers end up working 56-72 hour weeks.

"You cannot refuse," Dotson said. "If you refuse, you get disciplined. You have to stay."

He says since July of 2015, the city and taxpayers have paid more than $2 million in overtime for the jail officers.

The union is in negotiations with the city and expects a pay raise offer Wednesday. Currently, starting pay is $15.46 an hour.

Dotson says higher pay is needed as an incentive to keep officers on the job. He says insurance has skyrocketed, and hazardous duty retirement is no longer an option.

"We are the caretakers of human beings here," he said. "We're not stacking books on a shelf or operating forklifts. We're taking care of human beings." 

During a jail committee meeting Tuesday, judges, attorneys and those who work in corrections met to come up with solutions to the overcrowding. As far as permanent fixes, the majority of the problem lies with a backlog of state inmates who are being housed at Metro Corrections.

"Certainly, working with our partners at state corrections at trying to relieve the bottleneck, I think there's been a lot of energy directed into that right now," Bolton said.

In addition, some inmates who are eligible for home incarceration are kept in jail because they do not have a home. The solution would be to house them under the home incarceration at a community bed like some type of shelter. Bolton says it is something he is considering.

"I guarantee you it's costing us more to keep them in jail than it would to provide them a community bed out there in the public." 

Plus, it is costing $105,000 a month in overtime to keep the temporary jail open at the top of LMPD's headquarters. As of Monday, Bolton said there were 456 more inmates at Metro Corrections than the same date the previous year.

Until permanent solutions are worked out, the jail is preparing to use gymnasium space to house inmates. 

Related Stories:

Metro Corrections to put more inmates on home incarceration to ease overcrowding

As arrest rates rise, Metro Corrections struggles to combat inmate overflow

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Copyright 2016 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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