Inmate Sues Benton County Jail, Seeks Punitive Damages

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A former inmate is suing the Benton County Jail, claiming the Sheriff’s Office is engaged in a kickback scheme to take cash away from jailed inmates.

Yves Eugene Adams filed a lawsuit earlier this month in federal court against the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Kelly Cradduck and Keefe Commissary Network, LLC. The suit claims the jail’s policy of transferring inmates cash upon arrival into a debit card upon release is unconstitutional because of the allegedly exorbitant fees involved, according to the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Arkansas’ Fayetteville Division.

Yves Eugene Adams was arrested Feb. 24 on suspicion of public intoxication and possession of a controlled substance. He was booked into the Benton County Jail that day with $613, according to the lawsuit.

When he was released the next day on $1,385 bond, Adams was given a prepaid debit card with the $613 on it, instead of the cash he came in with, the suit states. The cards are part of a contract between the Sheriff’s Office and Keefe Commissary, an entity that supplies prepaid debit card services for the jail, according to a contract submitted with the lawsuit.

The fees associated with the card are unacceptable, though, and violate Cradduck’s oath to preserve seized property of inmates, the lawsuit states.

“These fees are paid to defendant Keefe in consideration of a kickback that defendant Cradduck receives from defendant Keefe for commissary purchases by the Benton County Jail inmates from defendant Keefe,” Adams’ complaint states.

The suit seeks a jury trial, money returned to inmates who had to pay the debit card fees and an unspecified amount of punitive damages sufficient to act as a disincentive for others to carry out the same policy, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks to raise a class action complaint, claiming that the at least 2,269 members of the plaintiff class are anyone from whom cash was seized at booking time and replaced with a prepaid debit card.

Cradduck was issued a summons April 9 to appear in federal court.

Adams is being represented by the Kester Law Firm in Fayetteville and Monzer J. Mansour in Springdale. Cradduck and Keefe Commissary do not have attorneys listed in federal court documents.