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Louisville Metro Council will consider ‘no confidence’ vote against jail leaders

The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections is located at the corner of S 6th St and W Liberty St.
The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections is located at the corner of S 6th St and W Liberty St.

A trio of Louisville Metro Council members, including Council President David James, are pushing for a vote of no confidence against leaders of the downtown jail.

The move comes after a concerted push by the Metro Corrections union to highlight chronic under-staffing at the jail, as well as five in-custody deaths in less than two months. One of those deaths is currently being investigated by the FBI.

A resolution stating Metro Council has “no confidence” in jail Director Dwayne Clark and his executive leadership team was filed on Monday by Council Members James of District 6, Amy Holton Stewart of District 25 and District 13’s Mark Fox, all Democrats.

At a press conference Monday morning, James said the jail is currently short more than 150 workers.

“The Metro Council has insisted, asked for and begged for better leadership, more aggressive, professional leadership at the jail,” James said. “It hasn’t been there.”

On top of the jail deaths and under-staffing, the council members said morale among Corrections officers has deteriorated to “dangerous levels.”

Holton Stewart said jail leadership has also repeatedly failed to address the smuggling of drugs into the jail. She tied that failure directly to a mass overdose event at the facility last September, which led to five incarcerated women being hospitalized.

“Officers are charged with the burden of getting on their hands and knees to administer CPR and Narcan to save lives,” she said. “This happens on a regular basis.”

In December Metro Council passed a budget adjustment, proposed by Holton Stewart,  that gave the jail $72,000 to add two drug-sniffing dogs. She said Monday that Clark had not yet reached out to the training facility Metro Council provided to acquire the trained dogs.

The group of Metro Council members ultimately want Mayor Greg Fischer to fire Clark. Fischer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fischer announced earlier this month that Louisville Metro and the Corrections union reached a deal on a new contractthat includes an 8% pay raise and thousands of dollars in retention incentives and premium pandemic pay.

The vote of no confidence will be assigned to a Metro Council committee later this week and could receive a vote before the end of February. Members of the Metro Corrections Union approved their own no confidence vote last year.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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