Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today announced steps to provide additional assistance and independent review to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC), including the hiring of two new Deputy Chiefs of Utilities and the hiring Gary Raney, a national expert on death in prison. .
Performance improvement efforts
Two new deputy chiefs – Amy Hess and Ron Heady – will report to chief public services officer Matt Golden. Hess, who previously served as chief of public safety for the metropolitan government, is a former special agent and senior official in the Federal Bureau of Investigation; she led teams in the FBI’s Inspection Division in Afghanistan and several field offices, and was the agency’s highest-ranking woman when she retired in 2019.
Heady, a 23-year veteran of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) who retired in 2020, will focus on accountability and discipline issues at the LMDC. At LMPD, he served as a patrolman and commander of the hostage negotiation team, professional standards investigator, trainer and sergeant of the SWAT team.
“Prisons across the country are facing difficult hurdles, including staffing shortages and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Fischer said. “The addition of these two seasoned public servants to our team will provide additional support and knowledge base to our corrections team. »
They will cover:
Medical care for detainees;
Work with partners to reduce the number of detainees held;
Recruitment and staffing;
Development of policies, training and curricula;
Leadership development and succession planning;
Responsibility and discipline.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with both of these people before – they have the tenacity, integrity and character to help drive performance improvement,” said Chef Golden. “I’m proud that they have agreed to serve as deputy chiefs, and I look forward to helping improve with them.”
Independent Review of Recent Suicides
Metro also retained the services of an independent prison death expert to conduct an in-depth review of three recent suicides at the LMDC, as well as corrections policies, procedures, practices, training and equipment.
Gary Raney is a retired sheriff from Boise, ID, and served as vice chairman of the board of directors of the National Institute of Corrections and consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice to criminal justice organizations across the country.
“While suicides in prisons are sadly common, every death is a tragedy, and we must work to ensure that we take all appropriate measures to combat them,” the mayor said. “I look forward to Sheriff Raney’s independent review and recommendations on this critical issue.”
LMDC is also working with its medical contractor, Wellpath, to ensure it reviews its suicide risk assessment tools and practices, conducting individual screenings with inmates housed in single cells and increasing contact with people who have been in detention for less than 10 days.
“It is critical that we dedicate these resources and staff to making meaningful change and improving the care inmates receive,” said Chief Golden. “Over the past few months, we have improved recruitment incentives for new hires, improved salaries for sworn corrections officers, and worked with our justice partners to reduce the prison population. We simply cannot lose this momentum as we make improvements on multiple fronts. »
The Metro Council was made aware of these plans in recent letters from LMDC Director Dwayne Clark over the past month.
“I look forward to working with this team in the future,” said Clark. “Since day one, Chief Golden and I have worked together to improve the lives of staff and inmates. These experts can accelerate the important changes we’ve been working on for the past few months and guide us moving forward. It’s a team effort.”
Attached to this press release is Principal Clark’s most recent bi-weekly communication to the Metro Council.