Lynnwood man is challenging the legality of his imprisonment

The Island County Jail inmate was temporarily sent to a state prison and allegedly held in solitary confinement.

By Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

COUPEVILLE — The attorney for an inmate at the Island County Jail who had been awaiting trial filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus after the inmate was transferred to a state prison, where he allegedly was held in solitary confinement and fed only peanut butter and crackers.

The defendant, Kevin J. Daves, was brought back to Island County before the petition could be heard, but his attorney said he is now seeking to have his client released.

Daves, a 55-year-old Lynnwood resident, is being held in jail after being charged in two felony domestic-violence cases related to incidents on Camano Island.

Anacortes attorney Dennis Scott filed the petition for the writ of habeas corpus in Island County Superior Court on behalf of Daves. A writ of habeas corpus is a judge’s order for a prisoner to be brought to court in order to establish the legality of the imprisonment.

In the petition, Scott wrote that Daves was transferred from the jail to the state prison in Shelton, although he hadn’t been convicted of a crime.

Normally, defendants are released or held in a jail pending trial.

Scott wrote that Daves was held in isolation for 23 hours a day “for no apparent reason,” received no medical care and was at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Daves had a gastric bypass and needs a special diet but was fed only peanut butter and crackers and lost 10 pounds in two weeks, the petition states.

“They didn’t do anything for him and he only got worse when he was down there,” he said in court Monday.

The petition states that moving Daves three and a half hours away made it impossible for the attorney and client to prepare for court.

“It is alleged that the cause for Kevin Daves’ restraint is illegal,” the petition states, “insofar as it is an extrajudicial action taken without notice to counsel or Kevin Daves which affects his right to counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Jose Briones, chief of the Island County Jail, explained that the jail has an agreement with the state Department of Corrections in which the two entities temporarily hold inmates for each other.

Briones said jail inmates may be transferred to a state facility if he or she needs a higher level of medical or mental health care than the jail is able to provide, or if there’s a safety issue beyond the jail’s capacity to manage.

Rachel Ericson, deputy communications director for the Department of Corrections, explained in an email that Daves was held as a “boarder,” which is an individual from a county facility, from May 19-June 11. Since he hasn’t been sentenced to time in prison, he wasn’t eligible for placement in the general population.

Ericson said Daves was, however, appropriately seen by a comprehensive medical staff on multiple occasions and received regular meals, with peanut butter and crackers as a snack option in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Daves is being held in lieu of a $75,000 bail bond.

Prosecutors charged Daves in Island County Superior Court on Dec. 10 with burglary in the first degree and violation of a domestic violence no-contact order. He was accused of going to the home of his ex-wife in violation of a court order and entering the house without permission while armed with a knife, court documents state.

Four months prior, Daves was charged with a felony violation of a court order.

In court this week, Scott asked Judge Christon Skinner to release Daves to live with his daughter in the Seattle area. Skinner, however, said the issue should be heard in a special hearing.

Scott also said he wanted to prevent his client from being sent back to the prison before trial, but the judge said the jail administration makes those decisions.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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