University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name DOJ CRIPA Investigation of Daviess County (KY) JC-KY-0004
Docket / Court NA ( No Court )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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. An additional notice letter dated June 19, 1997, expanded the investigation to cover not only the main jail, but three other related facilities--the E. Robert Geobel Secure Juvenile Detention Facility, the Louis Johnson Youth Alternative Center, and the Harold Taylor Restricted Custody Facility. All were in Owensboro; all were part of the Detention Center. FAC.During May, June, and July of 1997 the DOJ conducted on- and off-site reviews of the Center's facilities.

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.

According to a spreadsheet describing CRIPA matters, shared by the DOJ, the investigation into the two youth facilities was closed Jan. 15, 2001; the investigation into the "restricted custody facility" was closed Oct. 1, 2002, and the investigation into the main jail was closed July 14, 2004. We have no other information on this matter.

Dan Dalton - 02/08/2007

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Affected Gender
Crowding / caseload
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Protective custody
Recreation / Exercise
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Special education
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Daviess County Detention Center
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 03/24/1997
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Review of the Use of Monitors in Civil Settlement Agreements and Consent Decrees Involving State and Local Government Entities
U.S. Department of Justice
Date: 9/13/2021
By: Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assoc. AG Vanita Gupta (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
not recorded
Re: Daviess County Detention Center (Findings Letter)
JC-KY-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Lee, Bill Lann (California) show/hide docs

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -