Third Metro Corrections inmate dies in past week


Fred Moon

Police officers like these have been hard to come by at the LMDC recently. Photo from Fred Moon on Unsplash.

Aiden Bonilla

A 48-year old woman was declared dead in her cell after commiting suicide on Saturday, raising questions over the competency of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC) staff.

The woman, who remains unnamed, is the third death this past week within the facility. 34-year-old Rickitta Smith was found unresponsive in her cell early Friday morning, and 59-year-old Kenneth Hall died in a similar manner Monday evening. The three inmates were charged with various crimes, with Smith being booked the day after Hall passed away.

COVID-19 and other issues have led to mass vacancies within the LMDC. At the time of the latest death, there were only two officers working the floor of 190 inmates. Currently, 123 budgeted positions remain unfilled, with more workers leaving every week, citing long hours and poor pay. The starting pay for a corrections officer at the facility is $17 per hour, leaving many officers willing to move to smaller jails that offer better pay with shorter shifts.

The LMDC are trying to fill the open positions as quickly as possible, with 13 officers currently in training to join the staff, where they will undergo a 9-month probationary position working in the jail before becoming full officers. They all have started three separate incentive-based programs in order to draw in more potential candidates.

Daniel Johnson is the current president of the Fraternal Order of Police for the LMDC, who help oversee and help out the department. He has been very open and vocal over the past few weeks in regards to the struggles of the LMDC and their understaffing.

“It’s awful in there, the worst I have seen in 17 years. We are seriously on the edge of trying to bring in the National Guard, or someone else to come and assist us,” Johnson said in an interview on September 12, 2021.

This highlights that the issue has stretched longer than just this past week, with concerns even several months ago becoming more publicized. With serious action yet to be taken, one must wonder what the next step will be from the LMDC.

Featured image “Policeman watching the St Patrick’s parade” by Fred Moon is licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).