Former jailer pleads not guilty
By Kat Russell
The Paducah Sun
A former McCracken County deputy jailer accused of multiple counts of misconduct made his first court appearance Tuesday in McCracken District Court.
Ben Green, 31, was indicted May 5 for 16 counts of first-degree official misconduct. At Tuesday's arraignment, Green appeared with attorney Jeremy Ian Smith and pleaded not guilty on all counts.
McCracken District Judge Chris Hollowell accepted the plea and informed the attorneys that he was going to recuse himself from the case, seeing as Green was a local deputy jailer. Hollowell mentioned he'd see if Keith Myers, district judge in Ballard and Carlisle counties, could take the case.
The McCracken County Attorney's Office had already requested a special prosecutor, and Jason Darnall, assistant county attorney in Marshall County, was appointed to take over.
The charges against Green stem from an investigation into multiple inmate complaints alleging mistreatment.
According to the investigation report, the Kentucky State Police were called in to investigate several inmate complaints that stated on the night of Feb. 21 Green had removed inmates from protective custody and placed them in general population.
As a result of the move, the report states, "at least three inmates claimed they were physically assaulted." One inmate suffered a black eye and multiple bruises, the report said. Other PC inmates claimed their property was stolen.
Protective custody inmates are housed separately for their safety, McCracken Jailer Tonya Ray said. The classification process is based on an inmate's charges, criminal history and the nature of their offenses. Inmates are also asked to list any enemies or inmates they can't be housed with.
During their investigation, detectives interviewed 18 inmates and a handful of jail employees who were working with Green that night.
The report states trouble began when an inmate was placed in protective custody and another inmate was moved out. The PC inmates had a problem with the new arrival and were angry the other inmate was moved. At some point, the new arrival pressed the emergency call button and requested to be moved.
When word reached Green, the report states, he went to the protective custody cell to question the inmates, but none would cooperate. Green allegedly became angry and told the inmates they'd be moved into general population.
In their interviews, several staffers told the detectives they expressed concern, but were reluctant to disobey a supervisor's order.
Not long after the move, the reports states, "arguments and altercations began to break out among the general population and protective custody inmates," after which the PC inmates were moved back into protective custody.
In his statement Green told police he had the authority to classify inmates as PC inmates and believed he also had the authority to remove this classification.
Ray disagreed, stating the jailer is the only person authorized to override or change an inmate's classification.
Following Tuesday's arraignment, Smith said more will be revealed as his client's case moves forward.
"There was no real policy or procedure in place at the jail," Smith said. "Since (Green) was a supervisor, he could classify and unclassify people. And there will be other things that come out. ... There's a lot going on here that's not in any of the reports."
Smith also disputed the inmates' accounts of what happened that night.
Green is scheduled to next appear on June 1.