LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Home Incarceration Program is used by judges in Jefferson County to help ease overcrowding at Metro Corrections, but recent decisions are causing controversy and drawing criticism.
Two accused criminals, both facing murder charges were released on home incarceration after police reported they admitted to their crimes. But in front of a judge, they were granted home incarceration.
Judge Sean Delahanty gave the two inmates the "ok" to wait for trial from home.
"As judges, we have the responsibility to follow the law, the law presumes the defendant is innocent of the offense,” Delahanty said.
Innocent until proven guilty is a concept both prosecutors and police say they understand and appreciate. But they say when it comes releasing accused killers they object.
"Do you think putting accused violent criminals on HIP is acceptable,” WHAS11’s Shay McAlister asked County Attorney Mike O’Connell.
O’Connell responded, “No.”
O'Connell said the Home Incarceration Program is designed to deal with low-level offenders.
"Home incarceration can serve a good purpose for those are eligible and likely good candidates to do it’s not in my humble opinion it’s not for dangerous individuals. It’s not for people you're afraid, to the level you're afraid of and you truly have a right to be afraid of,” he said.
O'Connell, who leads the city's team of prosecutors, said they have never had to work so hard to keep violent criminals behind bars.
WHAS11 started looking into HIP releases months ago, filing open records requests with the jail and going through more than 1,300 names, including every inmate released on HIP in the last six months.
We found as recently as last week, 28 of the 735 people on home incarceration are charged with murder, 25 others are charged with robbery, five are facing rape charges and two people are accused of kidnapping.
The number of those on HIP is up by nearly 70 people since August of 2017 and up by more than 100 since February of 2017.
"We wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation today if wasn't going on that there's concern in the community and with people in the criminal justice system, what is taking place in arraignment court,” O’Connell said.
As is protocol, through pre-trial services, prosecutor’s request defendants charged with violent crimes are given a bail but kept in jail.
In the case of accused killer Deandre Williams, prosecutor Cristin Southard reminded the judge that the defendant confessed to the shooting and she requested he stay in jail, but Judge Delahanty granted Williams home incarceration instead.
Delahanty said, "I need something more than I object because I object. the prosecution has different political interests than I do and a different view of the entire thing. And again, they don't have the same requirement of me.”
The judge said he and the prosecutor have different political interests, different requirements.
We took that statement to the prosecutor.
O’Connell responded, "So that's just. There's no basis in that analysis at all. We have the same statutes, the same rules that we argue. That's nonsense. That's total nonsense. I mean, you know what that is? That's just. That's just incorrect."
O'Connell said his office is frustrated and they aren't alone.
LMPD leaders are also voicing concern. The Chief of Police released a statement within hours of that decision saying, "We are astonished and disappointed."
That disappointment stemming from the decision to release the suspect and the reasoning. Judge Delahanty claimed the officers didn't give him enough information to keep the accused killer in jail.
"I think the cops need some training. they are fine people doing a very difficult job. Myself and other judges have noticed that some of their citations are not professionally prepared,” Delahanty said.
To that comment, Police Chief Steve Conrad provided WHAS11 with this statement:
I have serious concerns about some of the offenders being released back into our neighborhoods after my officers and detectives worked so diligently to get these violent criminals off the streets of Louisville.
LMPD works hand in hand with our partners in the County and Commonwealth Attorneys’ Offices – ensuring proper procedures are followed, and documentation is appropriate – to insulate the public from these violent actors.
Time and time again, offenders we have worked so hard to apprehend are set loose, back to the community they endangered in the first place.Police are only one part of the solution to violent crime. Refusing to even temporarily detain these individuals serves as an insult to this community and to the men and women who work so hard to keep it safe.
Judge Delahanty's decisions to grant Home Incarceration to a larger portion of Metro Louisville’s inmates has proved to be a controversial one but has also been applauded.
Leaders from the public defender's office sent this note to WHAS11: "Judge Delahanty has shown real leadership and political courage in following the law relating to pretrial release and detention, a rare combination in the Jefferson District Court, particularly in the arraignment division."
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