Community

Local jail officials are facing intense scrutiny from some Louisville Metro Council members.

On Wednesday, the council’s public safety committee convened for it’s regular meeting and members spent about an hour grilling jail director Mark Bolton over concerns of alleged mismanagement.

Jail officials have been under fire in recent weeks after several reports surfaced of inmates using drugs, fighting guards and being held beyond the expiration of their sentence dates.

Prior to Wednesday’s committee meeting, WDRB reported a “drug frenzy” inside the jail earlier this month, during which inmates were vomiting on themselves, treated for overdoses and guards were injured.

Furthermore, attorneys and a Jefferson District Court judge have expressed concern over alleged instances of inmates being unlawfully held.

In fact, a federal lawsuit was filed earlier this month against the city and the jail’s director alleging hundreds of inmates had been unlawfully imprisoned, according to a report from WDRB’s Jason Riley.

Attorneys for two former inmates have filed a federal lawsuit against Metro government and Bolton, claiming hundreds of inmates have been unlawfully imprisoned by being detained after judges ordered them released.

Earlier this week, jail officials released a statement about an immigrant inmate who was held some five months beyond the expiration of his sentence before being turned over to federal immigration officials.

Bolton, on Wednesday, acknowledged mistakes happened and stressed the jail is examining why the man was held months beyond the expiration of his sentence.

“Obviously, we kept him way too long,” he said.

But he added, “when you have a system that is taxed to the max, mistakes happen.”

He said Metro Corrections is well beyond capacity and officers are working vast amount of overtime to keep watch on the some 2,300 inmates currently being detained. The facility has a capacity of about 1,700 inmates, Bolton said.

Still, Councilman David James said there are questions yet to be answered. And he is looking to summon Bolton back to the council chambers early next week for a special meeting to answer additional questions.

“This is an interest of a lot of people in the community,” he said.

And Bolton, in an interview after the meeting, said he relishes opportunities to educate people about the local jail system and the issues it faces.

“This was, for me, the opportunity to engage individuals that don’t have a significant understanding of how a jail operates,” he said.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.