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After seven in-custody deaths, Louisville jail director Dwayne Clark to retire

Under Metro Corrections Director Dwayne Clark’s leadership, seven people in custody of the Louisville jail have died since late November, and elected officials and community members have called on Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to fire Clark. Instead, city officials announced Friday he will retire next month.

The latest death occurred last Saturday and led to renewed calls for Clark’s firing.

Clark informed Fischer of his intent to retire on Friday, according to a press release from Fischer’s office. Fischer appointed him to the position in 2019.

“My deepest thanks goes to those employees for enhancing public safety with their commitment to caring for our incarcerated population, while facing incredibly difficult circumstances,” Clark said, according to the release.

In a statement, Fischer praised Clark’s leadership during the pandemic.

“He rose to this historic moment by putting numerous reforms in place to improve the conditions of the jail for our inmate population and for our dedicated Metro Corrections employees,” Fischer said.

He did not address the issues plaguing the jail, from the numerous deaths of people in custody to the employee complaints.

Employees called the jail a “dumpster fire” in September, citing under-staffing and failing infrastructure, after which Corrections union members supported a vote of no confidence in Clark’s leadership.

After the sixth person died in February, Metro Council members passed their own vote of no confidence in jail leadership, including Clark. They also moved to hire a third-party investigator to look into the in-custody deaths and other issues.

Metro Council President David James, a Democrat who represents District 6, has said Corrections has “piss poor” leadership and called repeatedly on Fischer to fire Clark.

James told WFPL News on Friday that Clark’s retirement solves the problem halfway – but the second half is dependent on who Fischer chooses as Clark’s successor.

He said Metro Council is moving forward with the third-party investigation.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.