Two men who have been inmates at the Barren County Detention Center have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the jailer and two jail employees.
Daniel Lee Creech and Dale Allen Maish mailed their joint complaint to U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky, in Owensboro, and it was filed Friday, according to court documentation. The defendants are Jailer Matt Mutter, Chief Deputy Jailer Tracy Bellamy and Sgt. Justin Hayes, who coordinates the Class D state inmate program.
Creech and Maish, who filed the lawsuit pro se, meaning they are representing themselves, state they have requested access to a law library, and it was not provided. They are not asking for a jury trial, but rather for a judge – Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. in this case – to award monetary damages in the amount of $100,000, relieve the defendants of their jobs and award punitive damages of $100,000.
Copies of inmate request forms were included.
On the first form from Creech, dated Oct. 13, the request was “I need to go to the law library for some papers I have to file,” and the Oct. 14 response was “There is not one here. Is there anything we can help research for you.”
His next request, made Nov. 5, is longer and cites the Criminal Law Handbook as found on nolo.com and summarizes what he believes are the rights of prisoners, and states “To comply with this, prisons must provide inmates with either an adequately stocked prison library or help from legal assistants,” adding they must also provide supplies necessary to file court documents.
“I am a state inmate, therefore I have the right to access legal materials,” his request form states.
The Nov. 6 answer was “Jails may accommodate requests for legal materials and information, if available. Although jail standards do not require jails to provide law libraries, you may obtain the requested materials from your attorney, the county attorney or have materials mailed to you.”
A request from Maish, dated Nov. 18, states “I need to go to the law library to do some research on a federal case.” The response, signed by Hayes, states, “We do not have a law library at this facility. If you can let myself or Chief Deputy Bellamy know the KRS codes that you need looked up and we will get them to you.”
According to the Inmates Request Forms, the two men were in the same cell at the jail.
Creech’s claim in the lawsuit states that he had submitted another request between Oct. 13 and Nov. 5, “saying that I don’t feel it is right for a guard to research things for inmates,” and the claim states he never heard back from that one.
The claim goes on to state the information in the Nov. 5 request was based on information in a law book that another inmate had.
“I have no attorney, the county attorney has nothing to say on this issue, and our families are not allowed to send things that has been printed off the computer, and books cost too much …,” Creech’s claim states.
Creech states he asked to speak with Mutter “a number of times,” and Mutter had not come to see him.
“I would like to file this as a class-action lawsuit because I’m not the only one who needs the law library,”
the claim states.
Maish’s claim states he “asked several times to go to the law library to do research on time limits of parole board hearings,” and jail staff members said they would research it for him.
“They say there is none! Well there is one so no one is doing no research for us!” Maish states.
According to the jail website, Creech is 31, of Aurora, Ind., and was sentenced for “parole violation (for technical violation)” and was booked Oct. 9 into the Barren County Detention Center and was released Monday afternoon.
Maish, 48, of Louisville was sentenced for failure to comply with sex offender registration, first offense, and acting as a bail bondsman, other than first offense, and he was booked Oct. 1 into the Barren County facility, where he remained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the jail website.
The plaintiffs had, besides completing their respective parts of the complaint, also filed three Form Bs, the summons notifying the defendant of the lawsuit, and each had completed a Form C, stating he was financially unable to pay the cost of the proceedings.
The certificate to be completed by the institution of incarceration regarding any funds or securities on account to the defendant’s credit was left blank. A separate page was attached with statements from Creech and Maish that they had been there less than six months and the staff would not provide their account information. Each also provided forwarding addresses for mail sent after their anticipated release dates.
Mutter said Tuesday he had not been served with the lawsuit yet and was not aware of it.
He said there are no standards or laws that say the Class D facility has to provide a law library.
“This is a common complaint from inmates. It’s not a new complaint that we haven’t heard before from other inmates,” the jailer said. “We just had a jailer conference probably a month ago and we discussed that. Particularly with state inmates, they seem to think they are entitled to some things. They seem to have been misinformed about the difference between a right and a privilege.”
Read more of this story in the print or digital Glasgow Daily Times. http://glasgowdailytimes.cnhi.newsmemory.com/