Murder cases expose flaws in home incarceration

Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 at 9:45 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A man who admitted to firing shots in a weekend homicide appeared before a judge this morning on a murder charge.

Justin Samuel Curry, 29, of Louisville, was arrested after he called Louisville Metro police to report the shooting. The victim, identified as James Harris, 31, of Louisville, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Metro Police recovered the gun used inside the apartment, which is also listed as the home address of Harris. Curry, a convicted felon, had been placed into the Home Incarceration Program (HIP) on August 1, after he was arrested for cocaine possession and violating his probation.

This is the second case in less than a week drawing criticism to HIP.  The program started as a way to alleviate jail overcrowding and reduce costs.  Last week, District Court Judge Sean Delahanty ordered Deandre Williams to HIP after allegedly confessing to shooting and killing a young man the day before. That decision drew strong criticism from LMPD Chief Steve Conrad.

Metro Councilman David James said HIP is a flawed system lacking critical oversight.

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"We have over 700 people on HIP and seven to eight people working in HIP," James said. "So they end up checking on maybe 50 to 75 people a month."

Metro Corrections said there are 668 people on HIP. There are 35 individuals who work in the HIP program which is made up of officers and civilians. Hundreds that are on HIP are checked on monthly according to Metro Corrections. In 2016, 2,054 checks were conducted, LMDC Spokesman Steve Durham said.

Proponents view HIP as a vital tool to prevent jail overcrowding and keep costs down.  James Green, a former District Court Judge,  said public safety and flight risk are the two main considerations when ordering an inmate to HIP.

Defendants are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

"Appropriateness is a trick question," Green said. "It's a moving line, it's a moving target."

At his Monday court appearance, Jefferson District Court Judge Sean Delahanty ruled that Justin Curry was high risk and ordered that his bond be kept at $100,000 cash. A public defender was appointed to represent Curry, whose next court date was set for Aug. 14.

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