LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Metro Government has released the investigative report of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections from a year-long investigation into conditions at the jail after a dramatic jump in inmate deaths.
Thirteen people have died in custody at the Louisville jail since Nov. 2021, with five suicides, five overdose deaths and three dying of natural causes. The Louisville Metro Council requested the investigation into the department based on several issues, including the growing number of inmate deaths in a short period, the safety of residents housed at the jail, and concerns with operations and management of the facility.
The final investigative report found a dramatic spike in deaths at the jail in the 15-month period from Nov. 2021 to March 2023, compared to the previous 15 years. In the time period from 2005 to 2020, less than one person a year died a year from suicide or drug overdose.
The 457-page report used interviews from over 60 LMDC staff and inmates. The report highlights a range of concerns, including leadership shortcomings, antiquated facilities, and shortcomings in staffing, training and supervision at the facility.
The investigation was conducted by retired FBI agent David J. Beyer. According to Beyer, many of the issues at the jail stem from poor leadership from the previous director, Dwayne Clark, who the report says was “reclusive” and told officers to stay away from inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in lax supervision.
Beyer also points to the outdated jail facility as a significant factor, calling the facility “antiquated.” According to his report, it is of “paramount importance” that a new jail facility be built that would allow for easier supervision, while also focusing on the mental and physical health of inmates.
Beyer’s report also details poor training and practices for old and new corrections officers, leading to the violence at the jail, low morale, officer burnout and understaffing.
Under the leadership of the new director, Jerry Collins, Beyer reported seeing a drastic change. According to Beyer, Collins wants to focus on getting back to “Corrections 101,” ensuring that all officers are held to high standards.
“Director Collins and his executive staff have brought the leadership needed to address many of the jail’s shortcomings that led to the increase in deaths at the jail; yet there is much more that needs to be done. The most significant issue is the jail facility itself needs to be replaced. The current facility is tremendously antiquated and inadequate. This must be a priority for Metro Government,” said Beyer.
“We are taking these findings very seriously and are committed to making the necessary changes to ensure that the Department of Corrections is a safe and professional environment for all employees. We recognize that there is much work to be done, and we are committed to working closely with the Administration to address these issues and restore the public’s trust at Corrections,” said Metro Council President Markus Winker.
The Government Oversight/Audit & Appointments Committee released the report to the public on Wednesday. They will meet again on May 24, at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the report.