In Louisville, Kentucky, a judge was caught fuming on court TV because a female prisoner showed up in her courtroom and the inmate looked like she did not have any pants on. Worse, the inmate was also allegedly menstruating.
WDRB was one of the first to report about the incident on July 29, and they said Judge Amber Wolf was outraged when the defendant’s attorney said the prisoner was not given a jumpsuit and instead appeared not to be wearing pants. Mainly, the defendent looked pants-less because she was wearing athletic shorts that were hidden by the hem of her slightly longer shirt.
Sadly, during the incident in court, the menstruating defendant’s attorney also told Judge Wolf that the prisoner was denied showers, feminine hygiene products, and jumpsuits or clothing while in the Louisville, Kentucky, jail.
Another unfortunate part of the story is that the defendant was in jail for not completing a diversion program for shoplifting, and the judge said the Kentucky woman should have been released from jail after only a day.
During the incident, Judge Wolf was caught on camera stating phrases such as “Am I in the twilight zone? What is happening?…What the h*** is going on?…This is outrageous.”
The judge also allegedly told the defendant the following.
“This is not normal… I’ve never seen it happen…. This is completely inhumane and unacceptable. I’m sorry you had to go through this.”
After the fact, it was reported by a Louisville Metro Corrections spokesperson that it was normal to hold people for up to 72 hours in the clothes they were arrested in. Nevertheless, not giving female prisoners menstruation-related hygiene products was still an unanswered question that the jail promised to investigate.
Alternatively, is part of the reason that Kentucky jails cannot afford pants or hygiene products for menstruating female prisoners related to heavy-handed budget cuts by Kentucky’s governor, Matt Bevin?
For example, Kentucky’s governor asked for an increase in the corrections department’s budget as soon as he took office.
According to a WPSD report from January 27, Kentucky’s new governor said the prison worker’s turnover rate of 67 percent was “shameful” and he allegedly wanted to spend “$4.5 million to increase pay for corrections staff and another $12.4 million for Kentucky State Police employees.”
While it is unclear if Matt Bevin followed through with that specific $4.5 million and $12.4 million goal, he did get several corrections and law enforcement pay increases into the Kentucky budget approved in 2016.
For example, WFPL reported on April 14 that Matt Bevin boosted salaries for state police and also restored “some of the cuts proposed to the judicial branch.”
On the down side, Matt Bevin did not give “$6.2 million for 44 new attorneys to help reduce caseloads in public defenders’ offices across [Kentucky].”
This restoration of judicial branch budget cuts could also come across as an apology, because Matt Bevin initially asked for a decrease in the money allowed for courts and judges in his Kentucky budget, according to a March 22 report from State Journal, and there were immediate consequences.
For example, WDRB reported on March 23 that a Louisville, Kentucky, judge chose to send a defendant to prison instead of a treatment program because Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts would mean that “drug court was about to be eliminated.”
Kentucky’s governor may be looking to pay law enforcement more, but Matt Bevin is not necessarily pushing to build prisons or hurt prisoners. For instance, the Marshall Project wrote on June 14 that Kentucky’s governor had a poor personal experience with a prison being built in his hometown (outside of Kentucky) and stated the following.
“The quality of life began to go down…and the number of people who really had roots in the community began to change.”
Furthermore, on June 21, Kentucky’s governor was quoted by the Richmond Register speaking out for the quality of life of former felons and said the current prison system is broken because “America is the land of second chances.”
The Lexington Herald-Leader added to this in their June 21 report and said, “Kentucky’s governor was creating the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council in the hopes to address major issues in the state’s jails including how the state punishes people and how it treats them once they are released from incarceration.”
The article also stated that Kentucky’s corrections budget has a budget of $530 million in 2016 with “23,715 state inmates — about half of them housed in 13 state prisons, with the other half in local jails.”
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