Sunday, September 5, 2004

Louisville jail on lockdown
expecting influx



The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Jail officials have placed Metro Louisville's jail, which is jammed with more than 1,500 inmates, on lockdown during the holiday weekend.

Officials are also restricting visits and requiring inmates to spend more time in their cells and less in recreation areas.

Metro Corrections Director George DeTella announced the measures on Friday as the jail prepares for an influx of new inmates over the weekend.

"This lockdown ... it's about managing a population maybe as large as we've ever seen," DeTella said.

The jail, which is less than five years old and built to house 1,200 inmates, has dealt with recent serious overcrowding.

Last weekend the total jail population, which includes inmates at the main facility and those at the Community Correctional Center, exceeded 2,100 - about 400 over capacity.

DeTella blamed the overcrowding on an increase in arrests, a crowded court docket and longer jail sentences.

Kim Allen, public protection secretary for Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson, said Friday, "Our bookings have not gone up. But what has gone up is the length of stay at the jail."

According to Abramson's office, the average jail stay in 1999 was 12.9 days. In 2003, that went up to 19.8 days.

Jail officials say they have ordered extra mattresses and other supplies to accommodate more inmates.

But some inmates interviewed by The Courier-Journal said that the jail doesn't have enough mattresses or blankets and that some inmates have to sleep on metal frames.

"I didn't have a sheet, a blanket or nothing," said Anthony Cook, who was arrested early Monday on a weapons charge and put in a holding cell for a night before he was transferred to a dormitory.

"I had to sleep on a steel frame. I didn't have a mat or nothing. ... If you could come here you would see people on the floor, there ain't enough beds for no one."

But Dwayne Clark, chief of staff for corrections, said there are plenty of mattresses, with more than 1,720 on hand for the jail complex that currently has 1,550 inmates.

He said he's ordered 300 more, which should be delivered in a couple of weeks.

"I have enough blankets and sheets, and to make sure of that we're running the laundry seven days a week, all shifts," Clark said.

DeTella said this weekend's lockdown could continue until the crowding eases. During the lockdown, inmates won't be able to move through the jail as they did before, he said.




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