Equal rights group alleges complaints of misconduct ignored at Perry jail

Bailey RichardsStaff Reporter

June 14, 2012

HAZARD — An equal rights organization is claiming that officials at the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Perry County are ignoring complaints regarding assaults on homosexual inmates at the jail.

The Kentucky Equality Federation sent out a press release on June 7 stating that they had received several allegations of misconduct directed at LGBTI inmates at the jail. The release goes on to say that jail officials had been made aware of both sexual and verbal harassment against around five different individuals, but have failed to respond.

“I am aware of five or six complaints so far,” said Joshua Koch, president of the Kentucky Equality Federation.

Jail Administrator Tim Kilburn said that it was not until after the statement was released that he was made aware of any issues involving LGBTI inmates at the jail.

“I had been on vacation and got back on Monday, and that was the first that I had heard about it,” Kilburn remarked on Wednesday.

According to Koch, five people have gone on record and submitted their name and experiences to the Federation. Koch went on to say that in his attempts to talk to jail officials about these issues, he has been largely ignored.

“I spoke to a prison official,” Koch said. “I have been hung up on and cursed at.”

Kilburn said that no complaint by the Federation or individuals has ever come by him, and because of that he doubts the legitimacy of the complaints.

“I have never received a complaint in the six years that I have been here that anybody was targeted because of their sexual orientation,” said Kilburn. “So I don’t think that is true.”

Koch said the biggest problem is that the people going into the jail have to believe and trust in the system.

“They are completely and utterly dependent on the system to work,” said Koch.

In one instance, Koch said, one woman alleged that her medication had not been given to her because of her sexual orientation.

“In one situation medication has been withheld,” said Koch. “In one of those cases it was an anti-seizure medication.”

Kilburn completely denied this allegation and pointed out that the jail is not responsible for medications and cannot legally dispense them.

“In reference to what they are saying about not giving somebody medication because they are a lesbian, (it) is a total falsehood,” said Kilburn. “Our medical is contracted out to Dr. Steve Spady. The jail has no dog in that fight, so to speak. We don’t pass medication out.”

Kilburn said that while all of these complaints are new to him, he would have expected to have a formal grievance filed with him, and he has not had one yet.

“Nobody has filed a grievance with me, nobody has filed a complaint,” he said.

Koch said that the federation will continue to work for the rights of the LGBTI community in Kentucky, and that they feel compelled to respond when they receive so many complaints.

“We are concerned about all of the cases, but it obviously takes special priority when it traumatizes the person,” said Koch. “We don’t have an option when we start to hear these complaints.”

Federation representatives have filed complaints with the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and “appropriate federal agencies,” according to the organization’s release.