LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Overcrowding is forcing the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC) to move about 75 "minimum custody" inmates to an old, unused jail that sits on top of the Louisville Metro Police Department, according to a news release from Louisville Metro Government.
LMDC has 1,793 fixed jail beds for the inmate population, the release says, but the population has trended above 2,000 for the last ten days. Daily bookings are above historical numbers, and the scheduled movement of state felons from jail to prison has slowed considerably. Inmates are sleeping in temporary bunks on the floor space in housing units, according to LMDC.
"The working conditions for officers are tougher and the living space for inmates is crowded," the release states.
LMDC said no beds are left at the main jail complex at 400 S. 6th Street, the Hall of Justice at 6th and Jefferson Streets, or the Community Correctional Complex at 316 E. Chestnut Street.
"We cannot safely add more inmates to the existing housing units, and there is no immediate mechanism that can rapidly reduce the number of inmates committed to Metro Corrections' custody," LMDC Assistant Director Steve Durham said.
The unused jail where the overflow of inmates will be moved was built in the 1950s and has space for more than 100 inmates. It was closed because it does not meet fire suppression and smoke evacuation standards, the LMDC news release says. Utilizing the space will require more officers assigned to the unit, which has been described as "staff-intensive."
About 75 inmates will be moved in the first wave on Monday. The Kentucky State Jail Inspector has been notified.
"We have readied corrections officers, medical staff, and the kitchen, as well as all other operations partners for this decision," LMDC Director Mark Bolton said. "This is an uneasy decision that will create an unbudgeted expense of about $60,000 a month. But we cannot ignore the challenge crowded housing units present for corrections officers and inmates living in existing overcrowded conditions... I will use it safely, and I will shut it down as quickly as conditions allow."
This is the third time since 2012 that Metro Corrections has moved inmates into the old jail. If fully utilized, Metro Corrections can house as many as 140 inmates in the old jail at a cost of about $110,000 per month. according to the news release.