Fewer than five years after it opened, Louisville’s jail is nearly 300 inmates over its capacity. The Louisville Courier-Journal says Corrections Director George DeTella blames the situation in part on a high number of recent arrests that are putting stress on the jail’s “personnel, physical plant and support system.” He said every option for alleviating crowding will be explored, including the possibility of reopening a work-release center. Chief District Judge Donald Armstrong has scheduled a special holiday arraignment for Labor Day to try to release inmates who would otherwise sit in jail until Tuesday. Armstrong said one reason for crowding is that many people charged with misdemeanors can’t afford to pay fines and court costs and end up in jail.
Armstrong said corrections officials are trying to buy more bracelets and monitoring equipment to increase the number of offenders who can be assigned to home incarceration. As of yesterday, 413 were in that program. When the $28 million jail opened in December 1999 with 983 beds, an official predicted it would meet the county’s corrections needs “for at least 15 years.” Police figures show a sharp increase in arrests in the first half of 2004, compared with 2003.