Mayor asks for help from 'geeks' to ease jail overcrowding

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's more crowded than ever inside Metro Corrections so Mayor Fischer is bringing "geeks" in to fix the problem.

Louisville Metro Corrections houses about 2,000 inmates most days in a facility designed to hold 1,800 people.

The majority of those inmates are being held while awaiting trial.

"That creates many problems -- and much stress -- for inmates and for correctional officers," Mayor Greg Fischer said in announcing the Code for America/Arnold partnership. "We don't have money to build a new jail -- and we can't build our way out of this problem anyway. The question becomes: What can we do to significantly reduce the inmate populations while maintaining the safety of our city and the citizens?"

To alleviate the problem, Mayor Fischer has partnered with two national organizations -- the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Code for America to develop technologies to ease the over crowding.

Fischer says he believes making the pre-trial process more efficient will ease the stress on the jail.

Three fellows will gather data over the next month and return with recommendations later this year.

"They are going to use the data that they gather here to help us see, identify, understand and evaluate our problems and the potential solutions that come with this," Fischer said.

According to a news release from the Mayor's office, the fellows, who arrived this week, are:

Laura Meixell served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she worked on agency performance management and developed a place-based data-driven review process.  Prior to that, she worked on a community data and mapping system in Pittsburgh.

Marcin Wichary, a user interface designer and developer. Over the past seven years, he's worked at Google on Chrome and search teams, and has coded and attended to the user experience of interactive homepage doodles. 

Shaunak Kashyap, a generalist backend software developer with 10 years of experience.  Most recently, he helped build the ground software that will control earth-imaging satellites.  Lately, he has developed a passion for building RESTful web services. 

Still in its infancy, Code for America -- the so-called Peace Corps for geeks because it recruits top talent from the tech industry to work for one year with cities to build software solutions for civic problems.

Louisville is one of 10 cities nationwide chosen as a Code for America fellowship city this year.

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