Winchester, KY — When David Allen Jones was accused of trafficking in child pornography in 2013, his life came crumbling down. Lexington police allegedly linked Jones’ IP address to a child sex video downloaded from the web. The Clark County Sheriff’s office subsequently raided his home and Jones was thrown in jail before police found any evidence.
Despite repeated searches of his property, including digital devices seized by authorities like his cell phone, computer tablet, Xbox, server, modem, printer and DVDs — police found absolutely nothing incriminating. The alleged IP address link was a fluke that led to the incarceration of an innocent man.
Nevertheless, Jones was thrown in a cage and his bail was set to $15,000 which was too high for him to afford, so he had to wait for his day in court. Knowing he was entirely innocent, Jones waived his right to counsel thinking that it would help speed up his release. He was mistaken.
Despite prosecutors acknowledging that someone else in Jones’ apartment complex was the likely child predator, Jones spent the next 14 months locked in a cage — completely innocent.
In December of 2014, Jones was finally released. His life was in shambles, his name had been dragged through the mud over false accusations, forcing him to have to move out of Winchester.
“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.
After ruining the man’s life over false accusations, just how does the state attempt to repay him? They send him a bill for his stay in their cage.
According to Kentucky.com, the jail’s bill was based on a booking fee of $35, 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 told the Supreme Court in their briefs.
The state claimed Jones owed them over $4,000, citing a 2000 state law, that requires prisoners to pay for their stay — regardless of guilt. Since 2014, Jones has been battling his case out in court but these sadistic bureaucrats keep telling him he owes them — despite the fact that they know he was innocent and wrongly imprisoned.
So far, according to Kentucky.com, the justice system has mostly ruled against Jones. Last year, the Kentucky Court of Appeals said it was proper for jails to bill prisoners for their confinement even if they are never convicted of any crime.
“The Constitution does not guarantee that only the guilty will be arrested,” U.S. District Judge Robert Wier wrote two years ago, dismissing a separate malicious prosecution lawsuit that Jones filed against Clark County, seeking damages from the episode.
According to the local government, this bill is not punitive, it’s merely the cost of doing business with the state.
“For their services, jailers can impose and collect fees authorized by (state law) to partially offset the costs of confinement,” the county’s lawyers wrote.
“The statute is not punitive and there is nothing illegal or inherently unfair about imposing fees for services rendered to persons in custody,” they wrote. “Neither the Kentucky Constitution, the Kentucky Revised Statutes or common law require a refund of those fees if the person is found innocent.”
Jones’ lawyers call the jail’s actions “an affront to the bedrock American principle that a citizen is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
“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’ lawyers wrote in their briefs for the high court.
The amount of money confiscated from those who’ve been incarcerated in Kentucky is over $20 million in just the last five years with many of these folks being innocent. What’s more, whether or not a jail charges inmates for housing appears to be entirely arbitrary as only half of the 80 jails in the state charge inmates with these fees.
“Confiscating and keeping the money of innocent people to offset the costs of their confinement violates the fundamentally American presumption of innocence,” Jones’ lawyers stated, and they are right. This case is infuriating and anyone who thinks it is acceptable to charge an innocent man for being wrongly imprisoned deserves to be locked in those very prisons.