United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland
ASHLAND DANNY RAY HENSLEY, Administrator of the Estate of Danny Oscar Hensley, PLAINTIFF,
HEATHER BOSSIO, et al, DEFENDANTS.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Wilhoit, Jr., United States District Judge.
Churchill observed, "[t]he mood and temper of the public
in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of
the most unfailing tests of the civilizations of any
country." America's prison population exceeds
two million. Overcrowding, understaffing and
bureaucratic nonsense are the hallmarks of a prison system
where violence and abuse run rampant. To be sure,
"nobody promised [inmates] a rose garden."
Atiyeh v. Capps, 449 U.S. 1312, 1315 (1981).
"[T]he Constitution does not mandate comfortable
prisons, and prisons ... cannot be free of discomfort."
Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 349 (1981).
However, the maladies within the prison system manifest
themselves in violence, exploitation, rape and murder with
what appears to be increasing frequency. In this test, our
nation is faltering.
Oscar Hensley died while he was incarcerated at the Little
Sandy Correctional Complex ("LSCC"). At the time of
his death, he was twenty-three years old and a mere seven
months from being released from prison. Danny Hensley was
beaten, possibly raped and strangled to death by another
inmate, Randy Bowman.
time of Hensley's murder, Heather Bossio was a
Classification and Treatment Officer at LSCC and Holly Finch
was a supervisor at LSCC. [Docket No. 25, Amended Complaint,
Hensley's father and the Administrator of his Estate,
contend that prison officials, including Bossio and Finch,
failed to protect his son and that their failure resulted in
his death. Id. at ¶ 1.
the Court is the Defendants Heather Bossio and Holly
Finch's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 19]. The
matter has been fully briefed by the parties [Docket Nos.
19-1, 20 and 21]. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court
finds that neither Defendant is entitled to qualified
immunity and, therefore, their motion will be overruled.
facts alleged in the Amended Complaint are as follows: On
June 30, 2016, Randy Bowman murdered Hensley. Id. at
¶ 27. At that time, they were housed in the same dorm at
LSCC. Id. at ¶ 36. Earlier on that day, Hensley
and Bowman went to Defendant Bossio's office to follow up
on a request to be cellmates. In her role as a Classification
and Treatment Officer, she was responsible for classifying
inmates based upon various risk factors which may guide the
determination of where the inmates are housed. Id.
at ¶ 4
seeking a change in Hensley's cell assignment, Bowman and
Hensley explained to Bossio that other inmates had harassed
Hensley when he lived in a different dorm. Hensley stated
that he felt "safer" in his current dorm. Bossio
denied the request, explaining that because Bowman was a
"high risk abuser, " and Hensley was a "high
risk victim, " they would not be housed together. Bossio
advised Bowman and Hensley, however, that they could
"spend time together." Id. at ¶¶
the murder, Bowman and Hensley entered Bowman's cell on
the second floor of the dorm. Id. at ¶ 43.
According to the Amended Complaint, a corrections officer,
named as "John Doe 1", was approached by Bowman and
Hensley before they entered Bowman's cell and that either
Bowman or Hensley said something to the corrections officer.
Hensley and Bowman entered Bowman's cell, one of them
placed a towel over most of the cell door window. The cells
in this dorm at LSCC have full doors. The doors have a tall,
narrow window, which is the only way for prison officials to
look into the cell. Id. at ¶¶ 45-46.
one of them covered the cell door window, Bowman and Hensley
engaged or attempted to engage in sexual intercourse.
Id. at ¶ 50. At some point while they were in
Bowman's cell, Bowman physically assaulted Hensley. He
caused numerous cuts to Hensley's head and face, and
ultimately, Bowman strangled him. Id. at ¶ 53.
surveillance shows that he exited and entered his cell
multiple times, after the assault. Id. at ¶ 67.
According to the Amended Complaint, Bowman's shirt was
visibly stained with Hensley's blood. Id. at
Bowman told Defendant Derek Maggard, another corrections
officer, that an inmate was dead in his cell. In response,
Maggard and another corrections officer, Defendant Andrew
Hayes, went to Bowman's cell. Id. at ¶ 70.
When Maggard and Hayes arrived at the cell, the towel still
covered much of the cell door window. Id. at ¶
71. Hayes looked over the towel and saw Hensley, lying naked,
face down on the cell floor. Id. at ¶ 72. Hayes
checked Hensley's pulse, but found none. Id. at
¶ 73. Officers transported Hensley to St. Clair Regional
Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Id. at
Amended Complaint alleges that certain policies existed at
this time at LSCC, prohibiting inmates from entering the
cells of enter inmates, covering the cell windows, engaging
in sexual intercourse with another inmate and assaulting
another inmate. Id. at ¶ ¶ 44, 47, 51 and
52. Defendants do not dispute the existence of these
surveillance shows that after Bowman and Hensley entered
Bowman's cell, and after one of them covered most of the
cell door window with a towel, a corrections officer, named
in the Amended Complaint as "John Doe 2" walked the
entirety of the dorm's second floor. Id. at
¶ 55. He walked past each cell, and looked through each
cell window. Id. When Defendant Doe 2 approached
Bowman's cell, with the towel covering the cell door
window, he looked over the top of the towel into the cell.
Id. at ¶ 56. Despite LSCC's policy against
covering cell door windows, Defendant Doe 2 did not enter
Bowman's cell. Id. at ¶ 57.
to the Amended Complaint, LSCC officials determined, pursuant
to the Prison Rape Elimination Act, that Hensley was at a high
risk of being sexually victimized by other inmates.
Id. at ¶ 29. On numerous occasions while he was
incarcerated he requested protective custody and stated he
was afraid of other prisoners, but later recanted his
statements and refused protective custody. Id. at
¶ 30. On more than one occasion, he told prison
officials he had suicidal thoughts. Id. at ¶
officials determined, pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination
Act, that Bowman was at a high risk of sexually abusing other
prisoners. Id. at ¶ 33. On numerous occasions,
prison officials disciplined Bowman for threatening other
inmates and prison employees. Id. at ¶ 34. At
the time he murdered Hensley, Bowman was 63 years old. He was
serving a 45-year sentence for murdering a person with whom
he was incarcerated. Id. at ¶ 32.
November 28, 2016, Bowman plead guilty to the murder of
Hensley and was sentenced to life in prison without the
possibility of parole. Commonwealth of Kentucky ...