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NAACP president calls for immediate action for ‘unsafe’ conditions at county jail

NAACP President Jeff Stone was critical of the conditions he found Monday at the Nelson County Jail, and called don Nelson Fiscal Court to fund the jail in order to improve the facility’s safety.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 — NAACP President Jeff Stone called on Nelson Fiscal Court Tuesday to insure sufficient funding for the proper and safe operation of the Nelson County Jail.

Stone told the court he toured the jail on Monday, and said that in the jail’s current condition, the facility is unsafe. He predicted that if the conditions are not improved and soon, there will be another death at the facility.

JUDGE EXECUTIVE DEAN WATTS

Stone spoke to the court earlier this month in regard to the March 2021 death of LaBrent Maddox, the Bardstown man who died in the jail’s custody.

Stone said one of the inmates showed him how he could unlock a cell lock in the jail with a plastic fork. He said there was some sort of moisture he referred to as “slime” on the floor in one area of the jail. The humidity in the jail was so high it didn’t appear that the air conditioning system was doing its job to cool and dehumidify the air.

He noted the presence of black mold at the jail, which Stone said is an unnecessary health hazard to both the jail employees and the jail inmates.

Judge Executive Dean Watts defended conditions at the jail, stating that the jail routinely passes inspections by state corrections officials. The court has invested $400,000 in the past two years on jail improvements.

Whatever the court has done so far to fund the jail is clearly not enough, Stone said. “Funds or no funds, someone has died.”

He challenged the members of fiscal court to go and visit the jail and look at the conditions the inmates must endure. He called on the court to create an ad hoc committee to examine the issues at the jail and offer solutions for improving conditions at the jail and to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the facility.

Drugs are entering the jail, and Stone said more steps must be taken to stop or reduce their presence in the jail.

Stone also noted that the deputy jailer who watches the video cameras in the jail also has several other duties to take care, which means the cameras are not watched for significant amounts to time. Additional jail personnel would improve the safety of the jail and provide full-time monitoring of the security cameras, which are there to protect both the inmates and the jail employees.

Watts said he plans to address the black mold issue at the jail. He told Stone that once the Kentucky State Police have finished their report on the March 2021 death of LaBrent Maddox, “we’ll move forward from there.”

In addition to the jail, Stone also took issue with an incident that involved County Attorney Matthew Hite’s failure to prosecute a daycare worker who was videotaped spraying a child with water at the daycare. He said the incident amounted to the torture of the child. Stone said that Hite’s decision not to prosecute was unacceptable.

In a heated exchange, Hite said that investigators found there was no intent to cause harm, and without intent, there was little chance of making a case. The substance in the spray bottle was tested and turned out to be tap water, Hite said. He told Stone he was willing to meet privately with him and anyone else interested to discuss the details of the case at any time.

Hite said he had offered to meet with Stone before, but he never took him up on the opportunity.

Watts ended the exchange between Stone and Hite by telling Stone that the court had heard his message on both issues and understood his concerns.

After the meeting, Watts acknowledged that black mold is an ongoing problem at the jail, and that he’s asked Jailer Buck Snellen to look for solutions to take care of the problem.

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