Investigation Exposes Rampant Sexual Misconduct and Drug Smuggling Among Kentucky's Correctional Officers


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An investigation into the Kentucky Department of Corrections reveals a sordid history of sexual misconduct and other types of wrongdoing among current and former employees. Over a 16-month period ending in November 2023, a startling number of workers were found to have engaged in inappropriate relationships with inmates while also smuggling contraband into the facilities.

The revelations were brought to light by a report from the Lexington Herald-Leader, which obtained more than 800 pages of internal affairs investigations. The news outlet’s investigation exposed a serious scandal, with one chaplain facing sodomy and sexual abuse charges and a correctional officer pleading guilty to rape. It points to systemic issues within the state’s corrections department.

Over a 16-month period ending in November 2023, the Kentucky Department of Corrections discovered at least 30 of its employees were involved in inappropriate relationships with prisoners, probationers and parolees under their supervision.

At least 14 more were caught smuggling contraband into prisons for inmates, usually drugs, such as suboxone and meth, or taking money from inmates or their relatives in exchange for smuggling.

These findings emerge from a Herald-Leader analysis of more than 800 pages of internal affairs investigations obtained from the Department of Corrections under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

One of the employee-inmate sex cases resulted in pending sodomy and sexual abuse charges against the chaplain at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in Morgan County, 56-year-old Todd Steven Boyce, according to court records. That case is set for trial later this year in Morgan Circuit Court.

A federal lawsuit filed June 29, 2023, by Boyce’s alleged victim in that case claims prison officials knew the chaplain sexually molested inmates in the past, but they made no effort to stop him.

“Boyce bragged to plaintiff that he had been previously accused of sexual abuse by other inmates and nothing happened to him, so no one would believe plaintiff if he reported him,” the suit alleges.

In their response to the lawsuit, prison officials denied knowledge of any earlier sexual misbehavior by Boyce as well as any responsibility for his current criminal charges.

A correctional officer named Trista Fox was also caught sexually assaulting an inmate in 2022. She later pleaded guilty to the offense.

In a different case, police charged Correctional Officer Trista Fox, 39, with third-degree rape in December 2022 after colleagues walked in on her having sex with an inmate at Kentucky State Penitentiary in Lyon County. Fox has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing in April.

That inmate told investigators that his sexual relationship with Fox was consensual — he said he “pursued her” — but under the law, inmates cannot consent to sexual contact with corrections staff.

The leadership of the Corrections Department argued that the number of internal affairs investigations into these matters show that they are doing what is necessary to promote accountability among members of its staff.

In a brief 10-minute interview granted to the Herald-Leader, Department of Corrections leaders would not directly respond to questions about inappropriate relationships or smuggling inside the state’s prisons.

But they said the department takes seriously any allegations of wrongdoing by employees.

“We handle every piece of information the same, whether that be contraband or a relationship or whatever. The truth of the matter is, if we were not handling these situations in a very aggressive manner, the numbers would not be what they were,” said Scott Jordan, deputy commissioner of adult institutions.

“The reason the numbers are high is because we’re doing what we’re supposed to do,” Jordan said.

Aside from the sexual misconduct, the Lexington Herald-Leader’s investigation also unearthed a range of other infractions, including smuggling drugs to racial and sexual harassment, and even falsifying reports.

The report notes that the issue is not “unique to Kentucky state prisons.” Judah Schept, an associate professor in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, noted that “Being a correctional officer is a very challenging job,” and those in this position are often dealing with “mundane daily tasks and being unappreciated and underpaid and feeling isolated and overworked.”

The internal investigations resulted in several firings and resignations.

As a result of the 140 investigations included in the internal affairs records reviewed by the Herald-Leader, 62 corrections employees were fired or quit. In 29 cases, employees received written reprimands, verbal counseling or additional training, according to the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which oversees the department.

James Wells, a prison and jail consultant, explained how inappropriate relationships and smuggling can happen when there is no professional distance between officers and inmates.

“Staff have complete control over inmates’ lives. They decide if you get extra toilet paper or extra toothpaste or if you don’t. If you’re in an environment where you have nothing to bargain with but your body when you’re dealing with people who hold all the power, then you might be forced to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do.”

This scandal serves as another cautionary tale illustrating serious issues in our criminal justice system. It also raises questions about the efficacy of current oversight measures to prevent this level of corruption. The fact that Kentucky’s Corrections Department actively investigated and addressed those engaging in these activities is encouraging. But it also highlights the extent to which these behaviors are occurring in the system.


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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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