An internal audit could not find a signed agreement between Louisville Metro Government and Dismas Charities Inc. regarding the use of inmates from the non-profit’s halfway house at city departments.
The report includes a number of other troubling findings, including that Dismas workers were not consistently signing in or out at their assignments, did have proper monitoring of their activity and that their work logs were incomplete.
(Read the audit report here.)
Dismas is a non-profit group that through the Kentucky Department of Corrections houses inmates at its various halfway houses. While residing at those facilities, inmates are required to participate in community service and many work at Metro agencies as they transition to life outside of prison.
Mayor Greg Fischer’s office told WFPL they were surprised to learn the city had no written contract with Dismas, and are working to address the problems and develop a corrective action plan.
“It was new information to us that there wasn’t a signed agreement. Obviously, we’ll get one executed,” says mayoral spokesman Chris Poynter. “This audit clearly points out that there are deficiencies and we have developed a corrective action plan to deal with those deficiencies.”
The audit gave the partnership between the city and Dismas its worst grade, and shows that the lack of guidelines puts the city at risk. Among the findings, it is unclear, for example, who is responsible for expenses associated with injuries to Dismas workers or who is transporting inmates to and from their assignments.
The internal auditor also said that the inability for supervisors and city employees to verify the inmates offenses was troubling.
“There is no formal agreement with Dismas qualifying the types of prior criminal offenses considered acceptable for Dismas workers who are provided work assignment opportunities with Louisville Metro Government,” the report says. “Additionally, there is no independent verification of Dismas worker offenses being conducted by Louisville Metro Government personnel. As a result, there is an increased risk that Louisville Metro Government may be using Dismas workers with violent offenses, resulting in increased exposure to liability risk.”
According to city policy, Dismas is suppose to only make the program available to non-violent and non sex offender participants. But as LEO Weekly’s Joe Sonka reported earlier this year, the non-profit was found to be placing violent offenders at the Louisville Zoo without additional background checks.
City records shows an average of 60 inmates are assigned to Metro agencies per month, mostly at the parks and animal services departments.
But Poynter says despite the audit the mayor still supports the partnership because of Dismas’s mission to rehabilitate ex-convicts, and the cost-saving that Metro Government receives.
“The Dismas workers do provide free labor for us, and they are important in helping many of our departments do the work each and every day. And again, they do a lot of the work that people don’t want to do or it’s tough to hire people for,” he says.
The audit’s findings and recommendations have been forwarded to the city’s human resources department, which Poynter says will now run the Dismas work-release program.
A Dismas spokesman did not return repeated requests for comment.