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Man, 61, dies while in custody of Louisville jail

A person in an orange jail uniform is seen through an interior window.
J. Tyler Franklin
Thirteen people have died while in custody of Louisville Metro Corrections since late November 2021.

A 61-year-old man died while in custody of Louisville’s downtown jail Monday afternoon, the thirteenth such death in a little more than a year.

Metro Corrections officers found the man unresponsive around 2:30 p.m., according to a statement provided by jail officials. They said he was transported to the University of Louisville hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

LMDC Director Jerry Collins asked the Metro Corrections Professional Standards Unit to investigate the incident, according to the statement, and the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit will also investigate.

“I’m proud of the quick response from the corrections staff,” Collins said. “They worked very hard to save [the man’s] life. We’re saddened by this loss and will continue to work to promote a safe and secure environment at LMDC.”

The statement identified the man by his last name, but a representative from the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said Tuesday morning they were still working to contact next of kin. For that reason, LPM is not using identifying information at this time.

A person with the same last name and matching the description provided was arrested on a burglary charge last June and booked into the jail on a $15,000 bond, according to LEO Weekly. Arrest citations indicate he was homeless.

Thirteen people have died while in custody of Metro Corrections since late November 2021. The relatively high rate of deaths caused changes in leadership and a crackdown on drugs entering the facility last year.

Activists and nonprofit leaders who formed a coalition of concerned stakeholders have called on LMDC to end its contract with the private medical and mental health services provider Wellpath. Local groups including Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice and the ACLU of Kentucky are members of the coalition.

Officials have attributed some of the deaths to suicide, and advocates say the services provided to people incarcerated are inadequate. Mental health services were offered to “incarcerated individuals who may have been impacted by this death,” officials said in the statement announcing the death.

“As a community, unless we see the humanity of people in LMDC, and address the ongoing issues of holding people pretrial and the lack of quality, adequate healthcare, more people will die. We are all responsible,” said Sonja DeVries, an activist with LSURJ, in a statement.

She is helping to organize a vigil in response to the latest death, which is planned for 5 p.m. Tuesday in Jefferson Square Park across from the jail.

This story may be updated.

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

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