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EKU journalism graduate’s reporting honored by criminal defense lawyers

Ben Kleppinger, right, Editor Danville Advocate-Messenger

Ben Kleppinger, editor of the Danville Advocate-Messenger, has been honored by the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers with its 2018 Media Award, presented “to a reporter or editor who has informed Kentucky citizens about the critical constitutional roles of criminal defense lawyers, public defenders or criminal defense organizations in ensuring the individual liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.”

  Kleppinger graduated with a journalism degree from EKU and was an honors student and editor of The Eastern Progress.

  He won for his June 23 story titled, “Are defendants in Boyle and Mercer counties kept locked up for being poor?” which has been part of ongoing coverage by Kleppinger on the overcrowding issues at the Boyle County Detention Center. It began with a narrative on a woman’s arrest in Mercer County, who found herself homeless after spending 59 days in the Boyle jail because she could not afford her bond.

  The article went on to tell a much more alarming story, comparing stats on defendants offered non-financial bonds — about 39 percent statewide in 2017 — with those offered non-financial bonds in Boyle County, at 4 percent. The story included reactions from the Department of Public Advocacy and the Department of Pretrial Services, as well as a county attorney.

  A magistrate on the Boyle County Fiscal Court recently held up the story during a meeting when the jail study report came up, citing it as something extremely serious that needed to be approached and the root of many problems locally.

  “The Awards Committee unanimously agreed (the article) is richly deserving of this recognition for focusing attention on the inequities and discrimination in our bail system,” said David Ward, KACDL’s president, when presenting Kleppinger with the award.

  “I think it shows The Advocate-Messenger is paying attention to what’s happening in the community,” Kleppinger said. He said it shows the problems happening locally are happening around the state — that research indicates more people are held in jail than is necessary to ensure public safety.

Published on November 08, 2018

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