Two former inmates at the Logan County Detention Center have filed lawsuits in federal court claiming conditions at the facility violate their Constitutional rights. The lawsuits were filed on Feb. 5 in United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas by Kenneth Ray Morphis and Jerry Wayne Mills.
Mills and Morphis were transferred to the Arkansas Department of Correction on Feb. 12.
In their complaint, the inmates allege that written grievances about conditions weren’t addressed in a timely fashion, that conditions in cells are unsanitary or unsafe, that medical conditions haven’t been addressed by seeing a doctor and that conditions in the facility violate standards set by the state. Morphis further claims that he has been denied access to news, adding that is a violation of his Constitutional rights. Mills further claims that magazines mailed to him while in jail have been taken by jailers and that jailers did provide him a confiscation form, as required.
Asked about the lawsuits last week, Logan County Chief Deputy and Jail Administrator David Spicer had no comment and referred a reporter to County Attorney Kevin Barham of Paris.
"I think the charges are defensible," Barham said. "We’ve got problems at the jail and the Quorum Court has acted on some of those problems. They have funded four new jailer positions.
"The next step is to answer the lawsuits in court," Barham said. "We have 21 days from the day we were served to answer them and we’ll probably file an answer within the next week."
Barhams said the county was served on Feb. 6
Barham also said he will be consulting with lawyers for the Arkansas Public Entities Risk Management Association. Logan County is a member of the organization.
In October, the chairman of the state’s Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committee wrote a letter to County Judge Gus Young stating that conditions at the jail did not meet minimum standards. Specifically, the letter stated that the facility was chronically overcrowded, that there was a lack of inmate separation by type of charge filed (inmates with misdemeanor charges housed with inmates with felony charges), that cell design doesn’t meet state standards and that there was a lack of sufficient staffing.
The letter states that if the situation is not addressed within one year, the committee may be forced to put the facility on probation or petition the Attorney General to close the facility.
Conditions at the jail have also prompted the Logan County Quorum Court to look for solutions, such as building a new county jail or joining with another county to build a bi-county jail.
Morphis is charged with theft of property and was placed in county jail on Nov. 15. Mills is charged with theft by receiving, possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest, breaking or entering and driving on a suspended license. He was jailed of Nov. 27. Both were on parole from ADC at the time of their arrests.