LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A city audit found a host of problems causing Metro Corrections inmates to be improperly released from the jail, including communication issues with the court system, human errors and antiquated procedures.

The audit, requested by the Louisville Metro Council, was released on Wednesday and included several recommendations the jail has already agreed to implement.

Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said in a press release that he is assembling a team to work on the recommended improvements.

"We appreciate any opportunity to work with our justice system partners to reduce avoidable errors," Bolton said.

Metro Corrections has been under constant scrutiny in the last few years for alleged repeated failures to properly release inmates.

Bolton was called before the Metro Council's Public Safety Committee last February and asked about why inmate David Reyes stayed in the jail five months after serving out his sentence.

Also attorneys for five 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.

And Bolton and his top staffers were threatened with  a contempt hearing ordered last year by a Jefferson District Court judge who alleges the jail is not following orders on releasing inmates.

"I think this is a leadership problem," Judge Stephanie Burke told Bolton, his spokesman Steve Durham and Chief of Staff Dwayne Clark, among others at the time. "I think this is a systemic problem. …. 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."

The audit noted there is no automated, streamlined method for the jail and courts to share information and track court orders, calling the communication “manual and labor intensive.”

And judges and jail officials are not properly communicating about when an inmate should be released or brought to court, the audit says. Inmate sentences are being “manually calculated,” according to the audit, increasing the likelihood of “inaccurate sentence calculations.”

The audit made the following recommendations:

  • Create a "hotline" at Metro Corrections to quickly answer queries from judges and court officials about an inmate’s status.
     
  • Implement a streamlined, automated system for sharing information between Metro Corrections and the courts
     
  • Develop standardized forms for inmate releases, inmate location requests and clarification of court orders
     
  • Create an email inbox at Metro Corrections specifically for court orders that require special consideration
     
  • Develop a method to track and monitor court orders from the time of receipt through completed processing
     
  • Upgrade jail software to reduce errors in inmate sentence calculations
     
  • Update the Metro Corrections departmental policy on inmate releases, then review annually and revise as needed 
     

Jail officials and chief judges for both Jefferson circuit and district courts all indicated in the audit they would work together to fix the problems.

"Metro Corrections has demonstrated a long history of continuous improvement based upon our own accreditation reviews, peer review, lessons learned and audits such as this one," Bolton said in the press release. "Feedback from our criminal justice partners resulting from this audit indicates they are equally committed to their role in driving productive outcomes.” 

The audit reviewed inmates released between Jan. 1, 2016 and Feb. 1, 2017, with the stated goal of  determining if there had been “erroneous release activity.”

The audit was initially requested by Metro Council president David James, D-6th District.

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