Heat restored to Metro Corrections after dipping to 40 degrees over the weekend
The head of Louisville Metro Corrections said a faulty piece of HVAC equipment has been repaired, and the jail is heating back up after temperatures in some dorms dropped to the low 40s over the weekend.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The head of Louisville Metro Corrections said a faulty piece of HVAC equipment has been repaired, and the jail is heating back up after temperatures in some dorms dropped to the low 40s over the weekend.
“This is a cold snap. These things happen,” said Steve Durham, Assistant Director of Louisville Metro Corrections. “And we’re paying attention to it to get the temperature ratcheted up as quickly as we can.”
Durham added that the jail buildings are old, so heating or cooling them is a challenge any time of the year.
“We keep track of the air temperatures when we have a cold snap like this," he said. "Like we did last year, we’re doing this year, and we’ll do next year."
Metro Corrections tries to keep the jail’s temperature in the mid-60s or above. Corrections officers are checking the temperatures in the dorms, hallways, and living spaces every shift. On Tuesday afternoon, jail leaders used a heat gun to check the temperatures in different parts of the jail. One dorm registered at 80 degrees, another at 64 degrees and the hallway in the 50s.
But inmates in one dorm said it was a different story over the weekend, with temperatures feeling more like 30 degrees.
“The coldest temperatures I saw as in the low 40s," Durham said. "That’s too low, way too cold."
Durham said temperatures dropped because a piece of HVAC equipment was not working properly at the Hall of Justice, which is what controls the temperature at the jail.
“There was a defect in one of the pieces of equipment that’s operated by Facilities Management, not operated by the jail,” Durham said.
Facilities Management contacted a vendor to repair the equipment, and Durham said it was fixed as of Tuesday afternoon. But it still takes a lot of time to pump enough heat into the building to stabilize the temperature. Officers are monitoring the temperature and the inmates’ conditions. And inmates are being provided with more blankets to keep warm.
Metro Corrections FOP president Tracy Dotson said the irregular temperatures at the jail are a consistent problem in all seasons.
“The temperature fluctuation causes big problems for us," Dotson said. "It’s almost impossible to regulate."
He added that the extra cold can cause extra strain in an already hostile living situation. He said there is a concern when it gets too hot or too cold that inmates could lash out on each other or at officers.
“Anytime living conditions are sub par, it’s increased problems for staff due to stress on the inmates and stress on the staff," Dotson said. "It’s a problem."
The HVAC system running the jail is about 18 years old. The city has spent over $300,000 repairing it since 2016. It has never been replaced, which is something Dotson said they’ve asked for.
“The upfront cost on something like that is pretty huge," Dotson said. "So they tend to put band-aids on it instead of just outright replacing an old system on an old building."
In a statement from Metro Corrections, Durham said:
The jail complex is a series of old buildings, built in the 50, 60, and 70’s. There are design challenges and aging heating and cooling systems that contribute to irregular temperatures. Louisville Director Bolton has repeatedly commented that a new jail is needed.
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