Monday, January 10, 2000

Death fueled changes at Kenton County Jail

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A 1998 death in the Kenton County Jail had one positive outcome: It prompted improvements in operations and conditions.

        “It really was a catalyst” for change, said Scott Greenwood, attorney for James Franklin's relatives in an unresolved $50 million federal lawsuit against past and present Kenton County officials.


        In June 1998, Mr. Franklin, 68, of Elsmere died in a cell. A diabetic, he was naked and shoeless and lying in his own waste.

        Autopsy results indicated he had almost no glucose — or too much insulin — in his system. Mr. Franklin had been in the jail about two weeks for allegedly shooting at — and missing — a Covington police officer.

        “The jail had such a bad reputation. There was a lot of need for change,” said Kenton County Jailer Terry Carl, who unseated then-Jailer Don Younger several months after Mr. Franklin's death.

        “The (James Franklin) case helped reinforce our goals to improve,” Mr. Carl said. “We've made a tremendous amount of improvements.”

        Since Mr. Carl became jailer, 10 deputies have joined the jail staff, boosting its number to 85. About 60 are deputies. Starting pay has jumped about 10 percent — increasing to $9.98 per hour from $9 an hour.

        The jail had about 320 inmates last week. Capacity is 262.

        Other changes under Mr. Carl's tenure have been a ban on stun guns and a push for training that focuses on peaceful resolution of confrontations with inmates.

        Also, the jail now rushes inmates to a hospital when their health is in question rather than trying to treat them on the premises, Mr. Carl said.

        Others noted the following as evidence of change and im provements:

        • Four new fiscal court members were elected in November 1998, and the fiscal court is pushing to build a new jail.

        • In late 1998, round-the-clock monitors were posted in the jail after two juvenile offenders said they had been mistreated.

        • Kenton County juveniles are no longer at the jail. They have been housed at the Campbell Regional Juvenile Detention Center since it opened last summer.

        “It was not until a new jailer came on that we felt a change in attitude (and) some willingness to make improvements and provide more humane treatment,” said Kim Brooks, executive director of the Children's Law Center.

        In 1991, that Covington-based center sued Kenton County and the state because of the jail's treatment of juveniles. The complaint said the facility's lack of proper education, recreation and mental health screening, among other things, violated juveniles' civil rights.


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