Metro Jail Population Surges With Program's Halt

Category: In The Media

Jefferson District Judge Sean Delahanty, the lone judge to conduct the reviews since Judge Don Armstrong was defeated in November, said they have saved the city millions of dollars and prevented the jail from falling under a federal judge’s control, as it was in the 1980s because of chronic overcrowding.

METRO JAIL POPULATION SURGES WITH PROGRAM’S HALT

LOUISVILLE,KY. – County Attorney Mike O’Connell has successfully killed a program that allowed a single judge to review bonds set by other judges, which O’Connell says released dangerous defendants into the streets.
But Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton and other officials said the reviews — begun five years ago to prevent jail overcrowding — accomplished that goal, and since the reviews were halted last week, the jail population already has soared by 50 inmates.
Jefferson District Judge Sean Delahanty, the lone judge to conduct the reviews since Judge Don Armstrong was defeated in November, said they have saved the city millions of dollars and prevented the jail from falling under a federal judge’s control, as it was in the 1980s because of chronic overcrowding.
The program allows the reviewing judge to reduce bonds of inmates who were unable to post bail after more than 24 hours in jail, and to place some of them on home incarceration.
But O’Connell said there was no legal basis to allow a “self-appointed bond review czar” to reduce bonds and free potentially dangerous defendants without the input of prosecutors.
“This is a matter of public safety,” said O’Connell,who persuaded Chief Judge David Holton to issue an emergency order March 19 ending the practice.
In an interview, O’Connell said that if Delahanty is concerned about jail overcrowding,”He should run for Metro Council.”
But O’Connell himself signed a resolution issued in 2011 by the county Jail Policy Committee saying that the “jail population is affected by policy decisions made across the entire criminal justice system” and specifically calling for the 24-hour review.
“If I was for this then, I am totally against it now,” he said.
In a March 12 letter to Holton, O’Connell cited several examples of “obvious mischief” caused by the practice of permitting “summary judicial action by a single judge.”
For example, O’Connell said Delahanty released a defendant on home incarceration who was being held on a $5,000 bond after being arrested for forcing his way into a home, putting a gun to the homeowner’s head and demanding cash. A bench warrant had to be issued when the defendant, who was wanted on three other felony warrants, failed to appear in court, creating what O’Connell said was an “unnecessary risk to public safety.”
Delahanty said he volunteered to conduct the 24-hour reviews starting in 2011 because the jail was well above capacity and the safety of inmates and corrections officers was in jeopardy.
He also said the jail was headed toward the return of a federal consent decree, like one in place in the 1980s, in which a federal judge reviewed inmates’ bonds and ordered releases.
He said he and Armstrong agreed to do the reviews because they were senior judges and best-suited to withstand the political risk involved in “second-guessing” other judges and releasing an inmate who committed a violent crime.
Chief Public Defender Dan Goyette, who co-chairs the Jail Policy Committee, noted the 24-hour review rule was first adopted by the Kentucky Supreme Court in 1976, even though it wasn’t applied consistently until 2011.
He said the rule “plays an essential role in controlling jail population and corrections costs and, just as important, it is key in ensuring that those who continue to be incarcerated on charges after their initial bail is set remain so for legitimate reasons, not because of their socioeconomic status or some other arbitrary reason.”
Goyette also noted the process was started in 2011 with the approval “of each and every stakeholder in the criminal justice system,including prosecutors and judges” and that there is no “legal, ethical or practical reason for it to be suspended … certainly not on the grounds of any real or claimed ’emergency.’ “
Bolton said 3,100 inmates have been released or placed on home incarceration since 2011,and that last year Armstrong and Delahanty reviewed 6,600 bonds and changed 1,662 of them.
Bolton said the jail has 1,793 beds and had a population of 1,790 on Thursday.
He said that if the population exceeds 2,050 for three consecutive days,the jail must start to house inmates in a 60-year-old space over the Louisville Metro Police station that doesn’t meet fire code and which requires $100,000 a month in overtime to monitor.
“We will see a slow upward trend as a result of this order,” Bolton said.
In his letter demanding the reviews be halted, O’Connell cited Supreme Court rules that say cases should be assigned among judges equally, on a random basis.
He also pointed to a recent opinion in which the Kentucky Supreme Court “made it abundantly clear” that once a defendant is arraigned,subsequent decisions on release become the responsibility of the judge to whom the case is “properly assigned.”
That ruling came in a case in which Armstrong freed two people accused of dealing drugs after another judge had set cash bail for both,although it wasn’t part of a 24-hour review.
Goyette disputed that recent Supreme Court decisions require the process to end,saying “those cases have been mistakenly conflated and distorted as a means of compromising and impeding the 24-hour review process. One has to wonder whether this has more to do with politics and personalities than public policy and the proper administration of justice.”
Holton’s emergency order says that consideration of release at arraignment will satisfy the review requirements as long as arraignment occurs within 24 hours of detention.
He said district court will consider whether it needs to adopt a new rule to address the 24-hour review process.
Vince Aprile,the chairman of the Louisville Bar Association’s criminal law section, said that will allow collection of evidence on whether “clients,the jail and others are being harmed.”
Source: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2015/03/26/metro-jail-population-surges-programs-halt/70503804/
 
PUBLISHED:  March 26,2015
BY: courier-journal.com – Andrew Wolfson

 
source https://jailtraining.org/metro-jail-population-surges-with-programs-halt/1650/