Calls for Increased Transparency from Department of Corrections
Several organizations gathered outside LMDC to demand increased accountability and transparency within the jail. These calls are in light of a recent arrest of a former corrections officer who was smuggling drugs to inmates.
Wednesday representatives from a number of Justice Reform Advocacy groups gathered outside the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections to demand more transparency about inmates who are currently incarcerated. They further expressed concerns for the safety of the inmates who are currently being housed at this corrections facility in light of the alarming number of inmate deaths since 2021.
"I'm a person with lived experience with incarceration. I'm one of the first ones in this group to lift up that I believe that it was an inside job. I just did not believe that people individuals that use drugs were the sole majority of the blind to bring drugs inside. I know how the system works.... So in this example, to prove the work that we've been doing, we've been saying this somebody else you have to be more transparent and you have to let us know and let the community know that this is what's happening on the inside of this jail." - Savvy Shabazz Community Justice Action Fund
"Many of the people that are in this building, don't even have a violent charge. So we're talking about like, what is absolutely happening in here. 13 people have died in this facility who didn't have to be arrested in the first place. And we still are not talking about that. We keep talking about new jails and what community programming looks like and what it looks like when they go to different cities and go mimic what somebody else is doing." - Chanelle Helm Louisville BLM
"We weren't given the information. The information isn't public about the health care in the jail, you have to get open records. And they take too long and we know they're behind. So we spend a lot of time just trying to figure out what's going on... I think the dashboard will help. Because I think as many as 80% of the people in jail are awaiting trial, but we will know that when we have the information that they give us, but it's taken 10 years to get that dashboard asked for a dashboard in 2009." - Judi Jennings Louisville Family Justice Advocates
"And so all this is going on because the good offices are turning other side when the bad officers get away with stuff. It's an internal problem. All this has gone on because people on the inside aren't stepping up. You got to step up. I used to be a correctional officer. I knew who the bad ones were, and I got rid of them and that's what needs to happen." - Carolyn Marie Wilson Former LMDC Officer
"We know for a fact that the SWAT was stealing drugs and money from houses that they were running into. No one is being held accountable and none of these higher ups over these guys. So cleaning house has got to be on this order. It has got to be, that's the only way we're going to get anything done and fixed. You got to fix the problem. The problem is the complaints are coming in and the higher ups are not doing anything about it. So if they aren't doing their jobs, they don't need to sitting in those seats." - Antonio Brown KY Alliance
It's believed that many, if not most, non-violent crimes are committed out of necessity for basic resources such as food, water, and shelter. Many Justice Reform Advocates believe that increased access to resources would assist in bringing down crime rates and even freeing up some of those that are currently stuck in jail.
"One of the things that we definitely need is better health care. We need better services all the way around and resources in this facility. I think overall resources and wraparound services out the answer to that and getting people to what they need. I say all the time. Homelessness should not be a crime. We have to stop arresting people for having mental breakdowns. That's not a crime. We have to stop arresting people in homes. That's not a crime. So that's going to be one of the first things that we have to focus on is not arresting people." - Savvy Shabazz
"I think like within the last week, we keep hearing only two sides to the same type of story and even in this situation, we still only hear like one major sides of story. The people who have resources and the people who don't have resources. And in this situation, we still have the people who have resources you asked about the people that run this facility. They're also connected to the people who run that building and who run this building and who run that building. And the way that they don't even jointly make sure that there is some type of not only accountability, but respect to the vast majority of people in this city and in this state who don't have the resources is part of my frustration." - Chenelle Helm
"I've been touched by the issues of being houseless. And I've been touched by the issues of being incarcerated. And I keep on hearing about, let's build a new jail. We don't know exactly how many houseless people are located in this jail, but instead of us continuing to want to build a new jail, why don't we build some kind of housing for our people who are less fortunate than us, you know, because I was out here. I've been out here." - Pony Vocal Kentucky
"I think one of the big issues so many people who are affected in jail, and obviously homelessness are the people who don't have resources until the people who have resources the people who can influence the power brokers step up and say this is not right. We have to make changes. We have to make systemic changes." - Peggy Woolley LSURJ
In April 2022, Metro Corrections became aware Kosman was working with inmates and others outside of the jail to smuggle drugs into the facility. Louisville Metro Police began investigating and Kosman was suspended, pending the outcome of their findings.
Kosman resigned from Metro Corrections in Feb. 2023 and an arrest warrant was issued for her on April 11, 2023. Cynthia Kosman, the former LMDC officer, is charged with official misconduct, promoting contraband and conspiracy to promote contraband.
Corrections Chief Jerry Collins said, “I would like to thank the Metro Police Public Integrity Unit for their help in this case. I would also like to thank the detectives at Metro Corrections for their diligent work. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated, and we will make every effort to hold those accountable who betray the trust the community has placed in them.”
Aside from this recent arrest of the former officer, there have also been 13 deaths of inmates within LMDC since 2021, many of which were drug related. The over arching concern is not only the safety of the inmates inside, but also the number of non-violent inmates being held and if their housing is necessary.
Catch the full press conference HERE.
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