Friday September 3, 2004
Louisville Metro Corrections officials today announced a series of short-term steps over the Labor Day weekend to address rising population levels.
During last weekend, the jail population exceeded 2,100, approximately 400 over the recommended capacity of 1,694, said George DeTella, director of the Louisville Metro Corrections Department. Those numbers are expected to rise over the Labor Day holiday, which DeTella said frequently happens during long weekends.
"We need to take steps to ensure that we can continue operating the jail in a safe and efficient matter,” DeTella said.
Measures being taken include:
• Beginning at 7 a.m. today, Metro Corrections officials have initiated a lock-down at the jail that will continue indefinitely. The lock-down limits the number of outside visitors inmates can receive.
• Inmate movement in the jail also will be reduced with the exception of the medical, counseling, and court services.
• Jail officials will conduct contraband searches throughout the jail.
• Executive staff will be assigned to work 12-hour shifts.
• Management and command staff also will be deployed on shifts during the lockdown, including shifts over the holiday weekend.
• After discussions with Metro Government officials, Chief District Court Judge Don Armstrong agreed to hold a special arraignment docket on Monday, Labor Day.
In addition, DeTella said capacity in dorms and housing units has been increased and additional mattresses have been purchased to accommodate the influx of inmates. DeTella said if the jail population continues to rise, additional alternative housing measures would be required, such as using the facility’s fifth floor gym space.
Following a previous spike in the jail population in November 2003, Mayor Jerry Abramson convened a briefing of criminal justice system participants and reactivated the Jail Policy Committee, a comprehensive approach to jail population management that is staffed by the Metro Criminal Justice Commission. This committee will enable Metro Government and criminal justice system officials to determine the sources of population growth and assist in determining policy or program changes that may be necessary in the future.
“The answers to managing jail population are complex, involving every facet of the criminal justice system from arrest to sentencing,” DeTella said. “We’re moving proactively to address these issues and implement solutions to the challenge.”