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Man hit with $4,000 bill after year-long jail stay for charges that were later dismissed

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 4:46 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 4:52 PM EDT
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CLARK COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - A 14-month stay at the Clark County Detention Center left one man, whose charges were later dismissed, with a $4,000 bill.

Now, the Kentucky Supreme Court is trying to decide if that bill is constitutional.

David Jones was arrested in October 2013 and posted to bail in December 2014. That’s when he was given the bill.

He also learned $256 was confiscated when he was arrested and used to pay part of the bill. State law allows jails to bill inmates to offset the cost of food and living.

Four months later, the charges against Jones were dismissed, but the bill was not. His attorney, Gregory Belzley, argued this violates his constitutional rights saying Jones was not guilty of a crime.

“You recognize the distinction in this case raised by the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence. Defendants argue to you that this is punitive. This is punitive because he’s innocent,” Belzley said.

The attorney for Clark County, Jeffrey Mando, said the jail doesn’t decide who is booked or who is guilty, but it needs money to continue housing inmates.

“What we’re here about is, has the jail violated any constitutional provision? Has jail violated the statute? Has the jail violated any precedent that would provide them with the remedy? Now, as harsh as that may sound, that’s the law,” Mando said.

Right now, we still don’t know exactly when the Supreme Court will hand down its decision.

The attorney for the Clark County Detention Center said the jailer does not plan to collect or pursue what is left of the bill. Jones’s attorney wants the bill dismissed entirely.

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