New positions at arraignment court work to ease jail overcrowding

New LMDC positions help save taxpayer dollars

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Two new positions at Metro Corrections arraignment court are helping low-level offenders who are tied up in the justice system get out while helping save taxpayer dollars.

On an average day, Metro Corrections is over capacity by several hundred inmates. It is something they've been dealing with for more than a year.

Every day between 50 and 180 inmates walk into arraignment court at Metro Corrections. Most are arrested within the previous 24 hours. Their charges range from a traffic violation to murder.

"Jails and prisons are for people we're afraid of and not people were mad at and that's a big difference," Jefferson County Prosecutor Mike O’Connell said.

The county prosecutor said that's why his office asked Metro Council to fund two new positions--a public defender and a prosecutor who can work together to get low-level offenders out of the jail.

Prosecutor Amelia Aslam starts the process before court begins.

"I look through the arraignment court docket to see what's on for the day and pick out cases that I think we could work out," Aslam said.

She gathers information on their cases and checks their court history. She also makes calls to potential victims if there are any in the case.

Then she makes an offer to the public defender, Amy Hannah.

Hannah then calls on inmates waiting to see the judge and tries to work out a case using the prosecutor's offer. It happens in a hallway behind the court.

That typically calls for a few trips back to discuss with the prosecutor, followed by more time with the defendant and finally a trip into the courtroom to hand over the agreement to the judge.

"We're doing what we can to balance for me, three different interests- the public interest in efficiency and safety and community, the victim's interest and what's happened to them and also the defendant has rights and their interest," Aslam said.

Most of the cases they work on end up working out.

If there is a problem, they send the defendant to see the judge.

On the day we spent in court, they released nine defendants and resolved 12 total cases. Since the program started, six weeks ago, the pair has released 130 defendants and resolved 176 cases. Total savings for the taxpayers over the last six weeks are between $4,000 and $11,000.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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