Louisville Metro Corrections moving some inmates to unused jail to relieve overcrowding

Louisville Metro Corrections building

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Corrections has announced that it is filled to capacity and that dozens of inmates will be moved to an unused jail built in the 1950s above the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Jennifer Kennedy was released from the jail Monday after spending two days inside. She saw the overcrowding first-hand. 

"It was terrible," Kennedy explained. "I slept on the floor, on a mat. I had to borrow a cover from someone who had one in there." 

According to Metro Corrections, more people have been getting booked than normal and moving some felons from the local jail to prison has slowed down.

State officials say they are working to reduce the Louisville jail population. 

Lisa Lamb, a spokesperson for Kentucky's Department of Corrections sent a statement saying in part, "The transfer of state inmates has slowed because other county jails are full, as are our state prisons. The Department of Corrections has authorized overtime for staff to expedite the process of transferring these inmates to ease overcrowding." 

For the past ten days, the daily inmate population has trended above 2,000 at Metro Corrections, and the agency has just under 1,800 beds.  

"It was kind of rough, but I got through it," said Imani Thomas, who was also released from the jail Monday. 

To make more room, Metro Corrections says it will use an old jail that sits above LMPD headquarters. 

The facility dates back to the 1950s, and according to a release from corrections officials, "...that space has been shuttered because it does not meet fire suppression and smoke evacuation standards."  

Jefferson District Court Judge Sean Delahanty is calling the move unacceptable and the Metro Corrections' proposed solution illegal. 

"If they have a fire there, people are going to die," he told WDRB News. 

Jail officials refused to go on camera Monday but have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday. 

In that press release, Director Mark Bolton says, "...we cannot ignore the challenge crowded housing units present for Corrections Officers and for inmates living in existing overcrowded conditions. As I said in the past, this is a temporary overflow mechanism. " 

With 2,000 inmates still inside, there's relief for those who have regained their freedom. 

"I'm so happy," Kennedy said. "I really am. I don't plan on coming back." 

Metro Corrections officials say they will use the jail safely and shut it down as soon as conditions allow. 

They say this decision will cost about $60,000 per month. 

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