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Jail trying to improve procedures as another inmate dies

February 7, 2022 GMT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Officials at a Kentucky jail say they are still trying to improve procedures as they deal with the death of a sixth inmate in three months.

Leslie Starnes, 36, who was being held in Louisville Metro Corrections, was found unresponsive by a corrections officer making rounds and was pronounced dead early Sunday at a hospital, news outlets reported, citing a statement from the agency.

“I want to assure you that me and my staff are working hard each day examining our processes,” Metro Corrections Director Dwayne Clark said during an afternoon news conference with other officials including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

“We’ve challenged the mental health staff here to increase some mental health professional hours and to examine their questionnaire, their screening tool to see if there’s anything we can add to it to catch some of this,” Clark said.

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The jail has tried to address staffing shortages by raising salaries and offering incentives, Fischer said. Officials are also working with the court system to reduce the inmate population, he said.

The deaths are being investigated by the Metro Corrections Professional Standards Unit and Louisville police, officials said. Fischer said Sunday that he asked police to accelerate their investigations.

“Each of these cases are different,” Fischer said. “If it’s determined that there’s a pattern with these recent deaths, we are going to open further investigations.”