City will audit Louisville jail over inmate releases
"There seems to be an issue with inmates being either released early or held longer than they are supposed to be," Council member David James said in an interview. "The way to get to the bottom of it would appear to be to have an auditor go back and look."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The city auditor will immediately begin a review of Metro Correction’s “inmate release activity” to determine if people are being correctly released from the jail.
Louisville's chief audit executive, May Porter, sent a letter to jail Director Mark Bolton on Monday saying the Office of Internal Audit wants to look at inmates released between Jan. 1, 2016 and this month to see if there has been “erroneous release activity” and what financial impact that may have had on the city.
The audit was requested by Metro Council David James, D-6th District, according to the letter obtained by WDRB.
"There seems to be an issue with inmates being either released early or held longer than they are supposed to be," James said in an interview. "The way to get to the bottom of it would appear to be to have an auditor go back and look."
Last week, Bolton was called before the Metro Council's Public Safety Committee and asked about drugs in the jail, improper releases and why inmate David Reyes stayed in the jail five months after serving out his sentence.
"Obviously we kept him way too long," Bolton said at that meeting, adding that he has launched an "aggressive investigation" to find out what happened. "But is it systemic? Absolutely not."
Bolton is expected to appear before the Metro Council again on February 27.
Metro Corrections spokesman Steve Durham said the department "looks forward to working with the Auditor."
In a press release last week about the Reyes case, Durham said that the jail "failed to notify" U.S. Immigration, Custom and Enforcement officials when he had completed his sentence in September 2016. And Reyes "remained in custody" until last week, when jail officials told ICE about the inmate and he was immediately taken into federal custody.
Rachel Carmona, an attorney for Reyes, said there was no question the jail had "unlawfully held" him for almost five months, until his family came to her and she notified a judge.
Metro Corrections has been under constant scrutiny in recent months for alleged repeated failures to properly release inmates.
Attorneys for two former inmates have filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Bolton, claiming hundreds of inmates have been unlawfully imprisoned by being detained after judges ordered them released.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, on behalf of Jacob Healey and Larry Louis Hibbs Jr., claims "false imprisonments and unlawful detainments have been regularly" occurring at the jail. The suit is seeking class action status for hundreds of inmates impacted in the last year.
The suit asks a U.S. District Court judge to issue an injunction stopping the practice and requiring training and supervision to prevent false imprisonments.
Also, Bolton and his top staffers are preparing for a March contempt hearing ordered by a Jefferson District Court judge who alleges the jail is not following orders on releasing inmates.
On Jan. 27, Judge Stephanie Burke harshly criticized jail officials, telling them there was a "leadership problem" and an attitude from some top officials that they do not need to follow orders.
"I think this is a systemic problem," Burke told Bolton, Durham and Chief of Staff Dwayne Clark, among others. "There is a wide consensus, not just in this court but in others, among the (Bar Association), the court staff, the clerks, the sheriffs, that this is a problem and it's a daily problem. This is something that needs to be a collaborative effort to resolve."
Burke has cited 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.
Burke set the civil contempt hearing date for March 28. In civil contempt, a person is punished until they follow a judge's order, with possible jail time or fines.
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