Fired prison administrator James Erwin sues state over firing


LA GRANGE, Ky. (WKYT) - A former Kentucky prison administrator is suing the state over his firing from the post, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

James Erwin, the fired Department of Corrections commissioner, is suing the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet over his firing that took place on Feb. 8.

Erwin is accusing the Cabinet of terminating him for not firing two black employees who were under investigation from the Cabinet's Internal Investigations Bureau, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff argues that he told the Cabinet about concerns about the "deficient work product of the IBB and in particular the corresponding investigations of these two employees."

General Counsel Andrew English told Erwin that he needed to fire the employees despite his issues with the investigation, according to the lawsuit.

In a separate meeting, Erwin argues that he told Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley that he believed the IBB was "mismanaged."

The plaintiff says he was fired as a "direct result of his refusal to terminate."

The former commissioner is suing to recover damages for "mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation and lost wages and benefits," the lawsuit says.

In a statement to WKYT, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet said regarding the lawsuit, "These false claims are an obvious attempt to distract from the wrongdoing that occurred under Mr. Erwin’s command. The Justice Cabinet will not be intimidated from rooting out deception and misconduct, and we will have much more to share regarding this situation very soon.

Right now, we can confirm that both correctional employees named in the suit remain on investigative leave, and we are following all appropriate protocols regarding their employment.”