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Trouble Behind Bars is a months-long investigation into Kentucky jail deaths. We found preventable deaths that provoked little to no follow-up, as well as failures at all levels of government. Who is dying in your local county jail? Not even the state Department of Corrections has a true, accurate and updated accounting.

KyCIR Reporter Wins Award for Series on Jails

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Empty prison cell

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting’s recent series “Trouble Behind Bars”has been honored by a group of the state’s criminal-defense lawyers.

The series “is richly deserving of this recognition for uncovering and focusing attention on the numerous cases of death, neglect, abuse and official misconduct in local jails — all of which occurred at great cost to Kentuckians,” the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said in a statement issued at the association’s annual conference on Friday.

Reporter R.G. Dunlop's stories “exposed shameful conditions, disturbing cover-ups and lax administration that have heretofore been unknown or ignored,” the association's statement said. The series “is the sort of compelling, in-depth investigative journalism that is too rare these days, yet so important and necessary to provoke and effect fundamental, essential change. It not only deserves but demands attention and recognition.

“We hope this is one of many awards it will garner, which in turn will emphasize and support a call for the immediate reform of the state’s jail system," the group said.

KACDL is the only organized, statewide group of criminal-defense lawyers in Kentucky, with 300 members in 61 counties.

This is the second consecutive year that KyCIR has won the association’s media award. Last year’s recognition was for “A Look at Louisville’s Worst-Rated Judge and Her Controversial Comments,” a story about Jefferson District Judge Sandra McLaughlin and disparaging remarks she made about some criminal defendants who appeared before her.