Louisville judge orders contempt hearing for Metro Corrections o - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville judge orders contempt hearing for Metro Corrections officials over "repeated" errors in releasing inmates

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Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton and his staff have been ordered to appear before a judge Thursday to show why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for the “repeated and patterned” failure to follow judicial orders on releasing inmates.

In the order, filed Tuesday, Jefferson District Court Judge Stephanie Burke cited numerous examples of inmates who had either been released too soon or kept in jail after they were supposed to be let out, causing hardship for inmates and a danger to citizens.

“The errors … jeopardize the safety of the community,” Burke wrote. “The errors … have caused the loss of employment, the loss of treatment opportunities, missed medical and mental health appointments, and they have placed Defendants and others at risk of harm.”

Steve Durham, a spokesman for Metro Corrections, said he would not comment on “a pending court matter” and that Thursday's court appearance was only to set a date for a hearing.

"We intend to present facts once a hearing is scheduled," he said in an email.

Burke cites 16 specific cases in which Metro Corrections is accused of not following orders, and she argues that between Jan. 4 and Jan. 20 of this year, the jail has failed to bring “numerous” defendants to their scheduled court dates.

The judge also writes in her order that she is only including a “limited number of the incidents” Louisville judges have dealt with in recent months.

“It is important to note that after discussions with a number of my colleagues, it is evident that the frequency of errors like those enumerated (here) has greatly increased since the early part of 2016,” Burke wrote.

In one example, Burke writes that an inmate, Lily Merrick, was released March 23 despite not posting a $5,000 bond and telling jail staff she was not supposed to be let out “and that she feared she would be in trouble for their error.”

Another defendant, John Medley, was sentenced on April 14 by District Judge Anne Delahanty to serve 171 days in jail but was released in error before being arrested four days later.

“You’re one of the luckiest guys I know,” Delahanty told Medley, according to a court video from April. The judge noted that Medley had been mistakenly released from Metro Corrections twice. “I feel like I should ask you some lottery numbers or something so we can all get rich.”

Jacob Healey, according to Burke, was ordered to serve three days days in jail on Jan. 9 but was still in custody on Jan. 13 when court officials realized the error.

"I don't know why I was held longer," Healey said in an interview with WDRB. "I work full-time and pay my taxes, yet I pay for people to be falsely imprisoned. I don't think that's fair."

In another case, defendant Megan Jackson was ordered to home incarceration with work release on Jan. 12 but officers “disregarded” the order, Burke wrote.

On Jan. 18, Jackson’s attorney, James Puszczewicz, came before Judge Burke to tell her jail officers were not following her order, according to a video of the hearing.

“It’s happened to me a dozen times or more,” he told the judge.

Burke told him there had been repeated problems with the jail following orders and she would be filing a motion as to whether to hold jail officials in contempt, according to the hearing. 

“I’m done with this,” she said. “I have a whole stack of cases they’ve done this. It’s ridiculous.”

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