During the past dozen years, the now-decaying 350-bed jail in Grant County, Ky., has been plagued by abuse, indifference, ineptitude and malfeasance, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting reports. Inmates have died needlessly or have been raped, abused and neglected. Lax security, flawed medical care, inadequate training and other administrative failures flourished. In an effort to cover up misconduct, some jail employees concocted bogus stories, ordered others to lie or destroyed incriminating evidence. The failures have occurred largely under the watch of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Kentucky Department of Corrections and the Grant County government. All of them, despite red flag after red flag, have been unwilling or unable to achieve lasting change at the jail.
Two inmates committed suicide in 2010, after what DOJ called “serious breakdowns in jail medical care.” Among other serious lapses, a teenager arrested on a traffic charge in 2003 was raped by inmates who had been encouraged by guards to attack him, and a mentally ill man serving time for a probation violation was sexually abused in 2002 by another inmate after being falsely labeled by guards as a child molester, a devastating accusation in a jail. Inmates and staff have filed more than 50 lawsuits against the jail during the past 15 years. Nearly $5 million has been spent to settle claims, with more payouts likely. “Nobody has been able to manage that jail,” said James Crawford, the longtime commonwealth’s attorney for Grant County. “They simply have not done it. If they had, you wouldn’t have had that volume of litigation. I don’t see how anybody, just looking at the lawsuits, could call it anything else but troubled.”