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Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Innocent man jailed for 14 months after being falsely accused of downloading child porn is BILLED $4,008 for cost of his incarceration

 A Kentucky man wrongly jailed for 14 months on child porn charges is suing the local jail he was incarcerated in after they billed him $4,008 for his stay. 

Winchester factory worker David Allen Jones says his life was left in ruins after he spent over a year in Clark County Detention Center on child porn charges that were later dropped. 

To add insult to injury, Jones was charged for his stay - the county jail billing Allen for hygiene supplies and per diem charges - a daily fee levied by the jail for prisoners' general upkeep. 

Jones has sued Clark County and it's jailer, Frank Doyle, asking to dismiss his bill, but so far, the justice system has ruled in favor of the jail, Kentucky.com reported. 

David Allen Jones is suing Clark County after they billed him for $4,008 after he was wrongfully imprisoned on child porn charges

David Allen Jones is suing Clark County after they billed him for $4,008 after he was wrongfully imprisoned on child porn charges

David Allen Jones was billed for his 14-month incarceration in the Clark County Jail even though all charges against him were dropped

David Allen Jones was billed for his 14-month incarceration in the Clark County Jail even though all charges against him were dropped

Jones was arrested in October 2013 when Lexington Police acted on a tip that linked Jones' IP address to a downloaded child porn video. 

The Clark County Sheriff's Department arrested Jones and raided his apartment. 

His bond was set at $15,000, which was more than he could afford. 

In the following months police were not able to find any evidence of child porn in any of Jones' digital devices while Jones waived his right to counsel and continued to assert his innocence.    

Prosecutors concluded that someone else in Jones' apartment complex could have accessed Jones' unsecured wireless network and the charges against him were dropped.

It is unclear whether anyone else was subsequently arrested over the child porn video.

Jones was released from jail in December 2014 but he says he was forced to leave his hometown over the publicity surrounding the arrest, losing his job, car and friends as a result.  

'My reputation, it's shot. I mean, I've got people that I've known for years won't have anything to do with me anymore because they believe the law,' Jones said.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled against Jones, saying it is legal for jails to bill prisoners for their confinement even if they are never convicted of a crime. 

Jones is trying his case in a second suit that has been reinstated by a federal appeals court and is now scheduled for trial in June. 

The County's defense against Jones is a 2000 state law that requires prisoners to reimburse the cost of confinement. The law makes no mention of innocence or guilty being a factor in reimbursement but according to Jones' lawyer it specifies that an inmate must be convicted for the state to collect fees.

'A prisoner in a county jail shall be required by the sentencing court to reimburse the county for expenses incurred by reason of the prisoner's confinement,' the law states. 

Jones' lawyer argues that since Jones did not go to sentencing court because his case was never tried, he does not owe Clark County  for his jail stay.   

'Confiscating and keeping the money of innocent people to offset the costs of their confinement violates the fundamentally American presumption of innocence,' Jones' lawyers wrote.

Jones' bill included a $35 booking fee, a $10 per diem for each day of his confinement, a $5 fee for hygiene supplies when he arrived and $2.69 for hygiene replacement supplies, the county's lawyers said. 

The county's lawyers said that the fees are not punitive and that there is nothing illegal about charging for services rendered to people in custody. 

Jones' attorney disagrees, arguing it is unfair to charge someone for their confinement when they are acquitted of the crime they were accused of.

'The government can't punish people unless and until they are found guilty of the crimes they are alleged to have committed. Yet Kentucky counties have for years routinely kept the money they confiscate from persons on admission to their jails, allegedly to offset the costs of their confinement, after the charges against such persons have been dismissed or they have been acquitted,' Jones attorney said in a brief. 

Over a recent five-year period Kentucky jails reported billing nearly $20.9 million in booking and housing fees from inmates, with only about half of the 80 local jails charging fees that ranged between $50,000 and $300,000.

Some jails did not claim any inmate fees meaning it just depends on where an inmate is jailed to determined if they will be billed.   

Clark County jail is one of the Kentucky jails that did charge their inmates, but financial records show that over the previous two years, of the $107,360 billed to inmates, the jail only collected $12,374, the Lexington Herald- Ledger reported. 

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