A federal judge has denied a Morgan County Jail inmate’s hand-written motion asking for a hearing for the county to show why it shouldn’t be held in contempt of a consent decree related to jail conditions.
John Kister, who is in Morgan County Jail on eight counts of first-degree robbery, listed 18 grievances about treatment of himself and other inmates in a motion filed Jan. 18 in U.S. District Court for the Northern Division of Alabama.
U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon on Monday denied Kister’s motion because he did not follow proper procedures outlined in the consent decree, which was a settlement of a 2001 class-action lawsuit brought by inmates against Morgan County Sheriff Steve Crabbe.
Kallon said in his order that the decree requires the inmates’ attorneys to tell the county’s attorneys about any alleged deficiencies first to allow the county “a reasonable period of time to resolve the issues informally.”
Kister said in his motion that he repeatedly has tried to contact the Southern Center for Human Rights, an Atlanta-based organization charged with monitoring the consent decree, about jail conditions.
“I have attempted to contact class counsel about these violations,” Kister wrote. “Correspondence and phone calls have not been answered.”
Attorneys with the Southern Center for Human Rights have been notified to review Kister’s allegations, Kallon said. The center has started an investigation of the decree and has raised one issue that is set for a hearing Thursday, he said.
“Moreover, if warranted and subject to paragraph 41 of the consent decree, counsel will also raise additional issues at a later date for the court to consider,” Kallon said in the order.
The 9 a.m. hearing Thursday in the federal courthouse in Decatur is for Sheriff Ana Franklin to show why she should not be found in contempt of the decree concerning the use of money intended to feed jail inmates.
In a federal court filing Friday, Franklin's attorneys said she acknowledges she removed $150,000 from an inmate food account and loaned it to a car dealership. They said she since has reimbursed the account. They argued that the order was overly broad and should be interpreted as applying solely to Franklin's predecessor.
Kister, 52, of Decatur, cited problems with crowding, meals, medical treatment, excessive force and other issues that he said he has encountered while in jail since May 16, 2015, court records show.
Kister is in Morgan County Jail with bail set at $100,000. A trial date has not bet set.