Inmates sent elsewhere sue Barrow jail

WINDER - Two Barrow County inmates housed in the Newton County jail have sued both detention centers, asking to be returned to Barrow to be closer to their public defender.

James Kenney Hayes and Michael Richard Thomas filed the suit in the Gainesville division of the U.S. District Court on Feb. 6. The pair claimed they had been mistreated and threatened in Newton County and wrote that they wanted to be transferred back to Barrow and not be housed out again.

Mike Katsegaines, Barrow County Detention Center division commander, said Friday that both had been returned to Barrow after the suit was filed, but he could not say when. Thomas was released on probation Feb. 20, while Hayes remains in the Barrow County Jail.

Katsegaines said the jail, which had 124 more inmates than its 90-bed capacity in January according to reports from the state Department of Community Affairs, regularly sends inmates to other counties. On Friday, he said, 56 inmates were housed in Newton, Lamar and Lumpkin counties.

Katsegaines would not comment further on the case, referring all questions to Chief Deputy Murray Kogod, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. Kogod did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

A woman who answered the phone at the Newton County Sheriff's Office said she had no knowledge of the case and did not know anyone who would.

Barrow County is scheduled to build a new 384-bed jail with money from a penny sales tax passed last year. Kogod said previously the county jail has consistently been overcapacity.

Magistrate Judge Susan Cole heard Hayes and Thomas' complaint Feb. 9 but has not ruled on whether the pair will be required to pay a filing fee.

Barrow County public defender Katie Anderson did not return a phone call seeking comment on their case. Hayes and Thomas also alleged in their 10-page handwritten complaint that housing them in Newton County denied them access to the law library and legal materials.