KyCIR Amplify: Jennifer Lynn Dennis, Former Prison Guard

 

Employees from the Department of Juvenile Justice and Department of Corrections are only 15 percent of the state government workforce, but they account for half of all the sexual harassment complaints statewide. For her investigation into the high rate of sexual harassment complaints at state prisons, KyCIR’s Eleanor Klibanoff spoke with current and former prison guards, who told her that sexual harassment is often a part of the job. Jennifer Lynn Dennis, a former prison guard at the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in eastern Kentucky, said sexual harassment caused her to quit her job. 

Along with three other women, Dennis sued the Department of Corrections and Sergeant Stephen Harper and won. A jury awarded them $1.6 million, which the state is appealing. Listen to Dennis in her own words in the sound player. Harper did not respond to request for comment for this investigation.

Cropped view of a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit standing in a prison cell.

Kentucky Reformed Juvenile Justice, And Left Black Youth Behind

When a youth is accused of a crime in Kentucky, an adult has to make a choice in nearly every step that follows.

Allow the youth to avoid a formal charge, or bring the case to a judge? Send him home or to sleep in a cell? Put another way: Offer another chance, or deny it?

Disproportionately, the Kentucky youth denied that second chance are black.