Former prisoner sues jail over $4,000 bill

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A former prisoner is suing Clark County and the Clark County Detention Center, saying he shouldn’t have to pay for his incarceration costs because the charges were dismissed.

In the complaint, David A. Jones said he was incarcerated approximately 14 months from October 2013 to December 2014. According to court records, he was charged with promoting a sexual performance by a minor. The charges were ultimately dismissed in Clark Circuit Court in April 2015.

Following his release, Jones said he received a bill for more than $4,000 from the detention center. Jones said he paid $20 but has not paid more under the advice of his attorney.

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Jones, who is pursuing the case as a class action suit, is seeking a declaration and an injunction from a judge to prevent the jail from “confiscating and keeping cash” of those held in the jail or billing them after their release when the charges were ultimately dismissed.

Jones originally filed his suit in U.S. District Court in 2015. U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood dismissed the case in March 2016 saying, among other things, that “recouping costs from inmates is a legitimate state interest” and that Jones’ constitutional rights were not violated. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Hood’s ruling in December and took no position on state law claims.

Kentucky law allows jails and county jailers to implement fee structures including a booking or processing fee, up to $50 per day or actual daily cost of incarceration, medical costs and property damage. It also allows fees to be deducted from the prisoner’s property or canteen account.

Jones argues he and others were wrongfully deprived of their property by the jail’s policy.

Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle said the case originated before he took office. Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas said the case is being handled by attorneys for the Kentucky Association of Counties, the county’s insurer.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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