On March 24, 1997, the Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation on the Daviess County Detention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky (Center), pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §1997 et seq. The DOJ sent notice to Judge-Executive Buzz Norris of ...
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On March 24, 1997, the Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation on the Daviess County Detention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky (Center), pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §1997 et seq. The DOJ sent notice to Judge-Executive Buzz Norris of the Daviess County Fiscal Court at that time. During May, June, and July of 1997 the DOJ conducted on- and off-site reviews of the Center.
On April 10, 1998, the DOJ wrote to Judge-Executive Norris explaining their findings. They found a wide range of alleged constitutional violations, including: use of excessive force against inmates; failure to adequately supervise inmates and protect them from harm by other inmates; failure to appropriately respond to medical emergencies; inadequate mental and medical care, and suicide prevention; unsanitary and unhealthy conditions; inadequate access to the courts; discipline administered without due process, including no opportunity for inmates to challenge or request review of charges made against them; insufficient opportunity to exercise; inadequate education for juvenile inmates and insufficient opportunity for activities during non-school hours.
In the report of findings, the DOJ identified minimum remedial measures that should be taken by the Center. They included: the development of comprehensive policies and procedures governing the application of force by the staff, and review procedures for inmates that file grievances for use of excessive force; the reduction of overall crowding, and implementation of fire safety training for employees, as well as holding regular fire drills; the installation of intercoms and panic buttons to be used by staff and inmates in confinement, as well as training regarding supervision and possible asphyxiation when inmates are under restraints; the removal of correctional staff from all medical care on the premise unless in absolute emergency, and the hiring of qualified physicians and registered nurses for the implementation of care including the administration of medication; the establishment of 24 hour access to medical emergency personnel; the repair and regular maintenance of all plumbing and ventilation at the Center; mandatory issuance of personal hygiene kits upon admission of inmates to the Center; due process for all inmates prior to the implementation of disciplinary procedures; proper access to courts including a sufficient law library at the Center, and assistance for illiterate inmates who wish to file a lawsuit; the opportunity for inmates to exercise out of their cells and outdoors; the provision of adequate education and non-school time activity for all juvenile inmates, as well as educational access for those in disciplinary isolation.
On August 9, 1998, a local newspaper article indicated that Jailer Harold Taylor defended the practices at the Center, and insisted that they were in compliance with Kentucky standards. He further argued that he would not go any further to accommodate the DOJ. As of the time of the article, there was no case filed by the DOJ or any other organization. We have no further information.Greg Venker - 05/21/2006