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Louisville jail director outlines plan for new repairs, security improvements within facility

The presentation happened during a budget hearing, where Metro Council is considering providing $3.7 million for capital projects at LMDC.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The new director at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections is outlining improvements he wants to make at the facility if approved for $3.7 million in capital project funding.

The funds are part of Mayor Greg Fischer's record $1.3 billion-dollar proposal for fiscal year '23. The Metro Council's Budget Committee has heard from different city departments throughout the week.

LMDC Director Jerry Collins has been on the job for seven weeks, as he works to overcome substantial issues at the jail -- including major staffing gaps, a string of incarcerated people's deaths in recent months and drugs making their way into cells.

During a budget hearing presentation on Tuesday, Collins told Council members the funds will be used in part to improve security and technology at LMDC, which he said is much needed to better keep incarcerated people and corrections officers from harm.

Collins talked about adding nearly 200 new camera systems, suicide-resistant cells and even tablets for inmates to talk with family and be productive. The jail is trying to make communication as digital as possible, as they said mail has been used to funnel in drugs and other contraband.

"Reducing the likelihood of harm to themselves," Collins said.

Some of the capital project money would go toward body scanners. Collins also mentioned improving points of exit and entry, for safety.

"We changed the one point of entry at the jail [to] the front lobby for all employees, upgrading that to detect contraband coming in from staff members or visitors," he said.

The price tag for repairs is a big one. Comparatively, $1 million was allotted for repairs a year ago, and $500,000 a year before that.

The presentation was shortened because the previous hearing ran long. Collins didn't yet get the chance to talk about staffing gaps and efforts to recruit, but Council members said they'll invite the director back in the coming days to finish.

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