Jail leaders looking for solutions to overcrowding at Metro Corr - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Jail leaders looking for solutions to overcrowding at Metro Corrections

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Jail Policy Committee met Tuesday to discuss possible solutions to relieve some of the overcrowding concerns at Louisville’s Metro Corrections.

Leaders discussed the concerns of too many state inmates being housed for too long at Metro Corrections. Director Mark Bolton said the jail is not getting many, if any, updates from the state about when those inmates will be moved.

"We're very, very hopeful that the state can move off the dime here fairly quickly,” Bolton said. “But again, we've been hoping that for over a year."

Bolton said once state inmates are moved, it will provide some immediate relief, but it does not solve the entire problem.

"If the state moves their inmates tomorrow, we're still going to be challenged here," he said. "So we can either try to build our way out of it or get smart about it and come up with some other options. And that's the way I think we're working on."

Part of Tuesday’s meeting also included an update on the new administrative release program.

“In Jefferson County alone, we released 525 people on administrative release,” said Tara Blair with the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts.

That translates to 525 people in the first three months of 2017 who were not taking up spare bed space in the jail. Administrative release allows non-violent offenders to be released on their own recognizance without waiting to contact a judge.

In the committee meeting, the update on administrative release sparked a discussion on how that success could be applied to more low-risk offenders. A judge recommended taking it a step further and applying administrative release as an option for thousands of low-risk bench warrants.

"It could absolutely help,” Bolton said about the idea. “When we have people locked up here every day on really low-level offenses -- and I get that these people are blowing off court or they're not in compliance with their court-order conditions. I get that that's an issue -- but should we continue to utilize finite expensive bed space in a very overcrowded situation on some of these really low-level, low-risk cases?"

Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine mentioned that it should also be considered while this could help free up space at the jail by not incarcerating low-risk offenders, there is always a chance one person could commit crimes while out on administrative release.

“Then you have the outlier,” Wine said. “And that is Wathaniel Woods, who had an outstanding bench warrant for a no operator’s license. And people hook on to that as, ‘Oh my gosh! He shouldn’t have even been on the streets!’”

Woods is charged with murder after he is accused of crashing his car into LMPD Officer Nick Rodman’s cruiser, killing him. Woods was listed as a fugitive in court records. He evaded an arrest warrant for nearly four months, remaining out of jail even as he attended court hearing for pending felony cases.

“So I’m just saying those things catch people’s attention,” Wine said. “We look for the one exception to the rule. It’s a terrible example, and unfortunately a life was lost. But that’s what everybody wants to model the whole rest of the program on – is the exception to the rule.”

Bolton responded, “We can’t afford the exception to the rule, Tom.”

Some jail leaders, including Bolton, have expressed frustration that there is a lot of talk but not enough action.

"What I've seen is we're still kind of stuck talking about some of the same stuff, but with no action," said Bolton. "I think we have to move this from discussion phase to some hard product implementation strategies. Because the problem is not going away."

The committee documented the ideas discussed and intends to present some at the next Metro Council meeting on April 20. That is also when Metro Corrections will be discussing its budget requests.

Related Stories:

Metro Corrections director says jail overcrowding is a problem for all people of Louisville

Louisville judge tells Metro Corrections officials they have a 'leadership problem'

Metro Corrections begins 'internal audit' after improper handling of inmate turned over to immigration officials

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