Frustrated by slow reform in the face of six recent Metro Corrections deaths, three Metro Council members introduced an ordinance Monday calling for a “no-confidence” vote in jail Director Dwayne Clark.
“The jail is understaffed and overcrowded, and that is creating a dangerous scenario for both the officers and inmates,” said one of the sponsors, Amy Holton Stewart, D-25. “Despite Metro Council making every effort to work with the Metro Corrections administration, Director Clark is failing to prioritize positive changes with any sense of urgency. Metro Council needs to send a clear message that we no longer have any confidence in Director Clark’s leadership.”
The six deaths have all occurred within the past year. Five of them have happened within a period of six weeks, one of which is being investigated by the FBI.
The union representing Metro Corrections officers already passed a no-confidence vote against Clark back in September — before the recent deaths, but in the midst of staffing issues at the jail.
In October, Clark appeared before the Public Safety Committee for questioning and said he was working on recruiting more officers and transferring inmates to Bullitt County jails.
In late November, the first of the five recent inmate deaths occurred.
LEO has reached out to Clark for comment.
To address staffing issues in the jail, the city reached an agreement on Jan. 21 to raise the pay for current and new Corrections officers. Previously, the city had created temporary incentive programs for officers.
Local activists have called for the city, including the mayor, to address recent deaths by reducing the number of people in custody. Their suggestions include issuing citations for low level offenses instead of resorting to arrests.
On Tuesday, the Buddhist Justice Collective will hold a vigil at Jefferson Square Park from 6 to 7 p.m., calling for these reforms to take place.
In a press release, the council members who filed the no-confidence resolution against Clark said that the jail’s leadership had “several opportunities over the last few years to get ahead of serious, long-standing issues.”
Metro Council President David James, D-6, and Council member Mark Fox, D-13, are also sponsoring the resolution.
In a statement, James said that jail leadership has failed to address concerns about contraband being smuggled into Metro Corrections. The council has approved money for a new Corrections K9 unit.