A closer look at home incarceration in Louisville, a judge speaks out

A weekend murder and a judge's decision., two recent cases raising serious questions about Louisville's Home Incarceration Program.

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Two cases currently working in the Jefferson County courts system are causing the public to take a closer look at the Home Incarceration Program, or HIP, who is on the program and how it works. WHAS11 went to the experts to learn more, talking to a judge and defense attorney about the program.

Over the weekend, police said Justin Curry shot and killed 21-year-old James Harris inside the victim's apartment in Bashford Manor. Curry was put on HIP on August 1, after being arrested in June for alleged domestic abuse and in July for drug charges.

Days before Curry was arrested for murder, a man who admitted to police to shooting and killing someone was released on HIP. Just Sean Delahanty released Deandre Williams on HIP last Thursday, saying he did not have enough information to hold the man in jail.
           
"I set hundreds, thousands of bonds the last several years as a judge and used home incarcerations extensively in the setting of a bonds,” Judge David Holton said.

Holton said it comes down to the circumstances surrounding the case when he's on the bench, deciding who's going home.

"You use your best judgment and exercise your judicial discretion reasonably and responsibly and you just do the very best you can,” Holton said.

There is no handbook with guidelines on who gets home incarceration.

"It’s all a series of individual judgments and judgment calls,” Holton said.

Holton said he considers the inmate's willingness and ability to show up for court dates. He looks for nonviolent offenders and mostly steers clear of releasing inmates with a history of substance abuse.

He said, "If it was to work perfectly, you equip them with the monitoring device around their leg, they go home, they stay home."

But Holton said he knows, as all judges do, that it won't always work perfectly.

That's why LMDC officials created a list of conditions that people must meet to stay on home incarceration.
Currently, in Jefferson County, there are 666 people in the program. The crimes range from traffic offenses to murder and the most common charge is drug related.

If the conditions are violated, the inmates are charged with escape and returned to jail. So far this year, 984 people have violated HIP.

Holton said, "It’s not an easy job, you're under a lot of fire, very often its rapid fire."

Judge Holton said he also uses information from others in the courtroom, like defense attorney Brandon Lawrence, who said he has had hundreds of clients on home incarceration.

"There's a lot of things to consider when issuing or granting or even requesting HIP,” Lawrence said.
           
He said he requests it for his clients with a job or a family at home.

He does so knowing who would succeed on the program, and then he puts it in the hands of the judge.

"There is no crystal ball when you're a judge, you just make the best decision that you can, based on the information you have and a trust that things will be right,” Holton said.

Judge Holton added when he and the other Jefferson County judges are making these tough calls, they are always considering public safety as a top priority.

Here is the current information for inmate on HIP through Louisville Metro Department of Corrections:

There currently 666 people on HIP. 2,133 inmates have been moved to HIP in 2017.

Here is the breakdown of the types of charges for those on HIP Aug. 7:

Charge Group                        Count of hip inmates
ABUSE NEGLECT                               2
ASSAULT                                             92
BRIBERY                                             1
BURGLARY                                          29
CHILD ENDANGERMENT                   1
CONTEMPT OF COURT                     10
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF                           3
DISORDERLY CONDUCT                    1
DRUGS                                                114
DUI                                                        21
DV PROTECTIVE ORDER                    16
ELUDING                                               5
ENDANGERMENT                                 3
FLAGRANT NON SUPPORT                 13
FORGERY                                              6
FRAUD                                                   6
FUGITIVE ESCAPE                                3
GENERAL FELONY                               1
HARASSMENT                                       1
HINDERING/INTIMIDATING                   8
LOITERING                                             1
MURDER                                                22
NON SUPPORT                                       7
ORGANIZED CRIME                               2
OTHER                                                    32
PORNOGRAPHY                                    3
PROBATION/PAROLE VIOLATION        40
PROMOTING CONTRA BAND                2
RAPE                                                        7
ROBBERY                                               24
SEX OFFENDER                                      1
SEXUAL ABUSE                                       7
STALKING                                                1
TERRORISTIC THREATS                         2
THEFT                                                      51
TRAFFIC                                                    26
TRESPASSING                                         5
WARRANT                                                27
WEAPONS                                               37
 

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