Built in 1991, the Campbell County Detention Center was designed to hold 135 prisoners. It quickly became overcrowded. In the weeks before this lawsuit was filed in the district court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, on April 29, 2005, the jail's population reached a high of 276 prisoners, many of whom were forced to sleep on the floor. Many of the inmates were awaiting transfer to the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC), which was also named as a defendant in this lawsuit. The KDOC addressed overcrowding at the jail by simply reducing the required floor space for each prisoner from 50 to 40 square feet. This lawsuit, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by attorney Robert B. Newman of the Cincinnati, Ohio, law firm Newman & Meeks, alleged the overcrowding violated the prisoners' Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The plaintiffs, the class of inmates at the detention center, sought injunctive relief and nominal damages.
The parties reached a settlement agreement on November 23, 2005, and notice was provided to the class and a fairness hearing held on January 25, 2006. The Court (Judge William O. Bertelsman) approved the settlement, after allowing one class member to opt-out, signing the consent decree on February 7, 2006.
To settle the suit, County officials and the KDOC agreed to a number of measures aimed at reducing overcrowding. These included the building of a new Restricted Custody Center to house felons headed for the KDOC, expansion and remodeling of the old jail, and the implementation of new policies to prevent overcrowding.
At the detention center, County officials agreed to add 256 beds, as well as a new kitchen and laundry facility, and to convert the old kitchen and laundry space into an upgraded infirmary. A full time nurse position was also created and filled. The jail also agreed to install more bunk beds and renovate dormitory showers; replace a boiler and all air conditioning units; upgrade the security system; and replace a leaky roof.
In addition, the County agreed to decline regular requests to house federal prisoners, and the KDOC agreed to remove prisoners from the detention center within 45 days or sooner after the imposition of a prison sentence. The county reached an agreement with Boone County to house up to 30 prisoners at Boone County's new jail if necessary. County officials agreed to appoint a "Population/Pretrial Officer" responsible for managing the number of prisoners at the detention center; implement a "Pretrial Conditional Release Program" to reduce the number of prisoners housed at the detention center; and initiate an objective jail classification system. Finally, a Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) was to be be created and maintained to foster communication between judges, defense attorneys, and probation and parole officers in order to address issues that might reduce jail population. As an element of the CJAC, Campbell County police chiefs agreed to instruct their officers to simply ticket and release misdemeanor offenders (except those charged with domestic violence or driving under the influence) who are not a threat to public safety or a flight risk.
On April 14, the Court required that status reports be filed every six months. The first report was filed on October 16, 2006. Subsequent reports were filed on April 16, 2007, and November 2, 2007.
Agreeing that the defendants had implemented the terms of the settlement agreement, the parties moved to dismiss the case. On June 30, 2008, the Court granted the joint motion to dismiss the case. Margo Schlanger - 09/21/2006
Erin Pamukcu - 03/11/2016