More inmates released amid corona concerns as one inmate gets re-arrested for murder

This man has be re-arrested after being released for coronavirus concerns.
Updated: Mar. 30, 2020 at 6:31 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A special docket Saturday released dozens of more inmates from jail.

Louisville Metro Department of Corrections FOP spokesman Tracy Dotson said 45 people were released Saturday. But, the move did not come without concerns. Former Jefferson County Judge Sandra McLaughlin called it a “Get out of jail day,” saying residents need to lock their doors.

Kentucky’s chief justice recently urged the release of inmates, worried the virus could be disastrous in that setting.

Louisville’s jail followed suit and now has the lowest number of inmates since the 1990s, Dotson said.

The most recent batch of releases by LMDC join more than 117 others granted release by the Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

McLaughlin’s concerns were echoed by officers who reached out upon learning one man, Jacob Burnett, who was released from state custody after serving two weeks of a two-year sentence, was re-arrested in Louisville on a murder charge. Their concern is that there is mounting pressure to release inmates in large numbers because of the coronavirus crisis, but some inmates may deserve a closer look prior to being released.

Burnett admitted to stabbing a person on March 22 in the Douglas Hills neighborhood. He’d been released just four days before on mandatory re-entry, a program designed to let prisoners out of incarceration a few months early. He had been sentenced to two years in prison on March 3 for another crime -- possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The Kentucky Department of Corrections said Burnett was eligible for the re-entry program after serving nine months and nine days, and that his release was not related to the coronavirus.

Judge Julie Kaelin presided over the special docket Saturday after posting about it online. In her post, she told lawyers they could call in and ask for the client to be released. Kaelin has been criticized before for decisions in favor of accused offenders. Kaelin, being a Jefferson County Judge was not involved in the Burnett case.

Dotson said the number of bookings at LMDC has dropped by more than a third in the last week. His lodge and that representing LMPD officers recently denounced the release of Kenneth Walker, the man accused of shooting LMPD Sgt. John Mattingly on March 13. Walker was released last week to home incarceration.

Dotson said, however, the release of non-violent offenders was needed in order to protect them and his officers.

After WAVE 3 News’ story aired, Judge Kaelin sent a response that said, “Regrettably, WAVE has presented this information in a misleading manner that needlessly stokes fear and fails to mention the long hours and hard work our prosecutors, defense attorneys, social service agencies, and law enforcement officers have undertaken to all work together to ensure the safety of all people in the community, including the Corrections officers who are putting their own health and that of their families on the line everyday.”

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