LOUISVILLE, Ky. -— Louisville council members say low staffing levels at the city’s jail are putting officers and inmates in danger.
What You Need To Know
- Louisville council members questioned city and jail leaders about a staffing shortage
- Council members said the low staffing levels created a "dire situation" over the weekend
- Jail leaders said there were 24 officers working on Saturday and 22 on Sunday in an area that should have 36 officers
- They cited a nationwide labor shortage, an increasing inmate population and COVID-19 as part of the problem
Metro Corrections staff packed city hall Tuesday night as council members asked city and jail leaders about what they called a "dire situation" over the weekend.
"What is being done today, today, to make sure that this weekend never happens again to where you have so few staff that it is both dangerous for staff, we’re putting officers' lives in jeopardy and it’s dangerous for the inmates?" asked Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26.
Jail leaders said 24 officers were working on Saturday and 22 on Sunday in an area that should have 36 officers and that 23 people are out with COVID or COVID exposure.
Before his remarks, Chief Dwayne Clark, the director of Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, asked for a moment of silence for Rick Longoria, whom Clark identified as a correctional officer who died of COVID-19 last week.
Jail leaders said the facility is currently housing close to 300 more inmates than it is designed to and there are 90 sworn and 40 civilian vacancies on the staff.
They cited a nationwide labor shortage, an increasing inmate population and COVID-19 as part of the problem.
"It was a dire situation as we all know and to numbers that are completely unacceptable," said Councilwoman Amy Holton Stewart, D-25. "And as the leader of corrections, Director Clark, and as a sworn officer, did you show up to help this weekend? ... I do believe that that’s a fair question after hearing of the urgent and unsafe situation and just wondering if that was ever considered, Director Clark."
Clark replied, "Yes, it was considered. When I learned of the problem, I did get my staff together and we were making conference calls and trying to come up with plans so that we won’t be in this situation later on down the road."
Matt Golden, who oversees corrections as chief of public services, said leaders "own" what happened last weekend and will make sure weekend schedules are appropriately staffed and better monitored.
But he said the staff needs to improve its 42% vaccination rate.
"We’ve got to get people vaccinated and healthy," he said. "We must press that and make that as a priority. It just has to happen."