Boyd County Jail

Boyd Jailer Joe Burchett addresses the fiscal court three weeks after the detention center was shut down. 

CATLETTSBURG Nearly 300 Boyd County Detention Center inmates are still scattered across 18 jails and prisons in Kentucky – three weeks after an uprising by maximum security prisoners.

Meanwhile, property restoration crews are fixing the jail’s electrical and sprinkler systems, replacing ceiling tile, installing a new control center and door lock system and repainting the entire building. The damage resulted from a small fire set by inmates on Aug. 19 and what authorities said was the destruction of a sprinkler system by inmates with a broom handle the day before.

Boyd’s insurance provider – the Kentucky Association of Counties, or KACo – contracted Belfort Restoration and agreed to cover costs for the full-scale renovation.

A KACo representative addressed county officials during a recent fiscal court meeting and outlined the agency’s coverage plan. KACo is partnering with McIntyre Gilligan Mundt Insurance Adjusters to estimate property losses.

“We know when you have a claim like this, everybody’s watching,” said KACo Assistant Director Temple Juett.

Insurance adjuster Mike Gilligan told the fiscal court the county is eligible for $160,000 in damages to the contents of the jail and $500,000 for lost income and extra expense coverage.

“So the expenses you’re facing that you don’t normally have, like transporting inmates to other facilities and so forth, any other cost like that is (considered) an extra expense. That’s covered,” said Gilligan.

The jail initially relocated inmates throughout eastern and northern Kentucky. But now the 292 prisoners are spread from as close as Greenup and Carter counties to as far as McCracken. And the county is paying for the extra gas and travel costs for jail deputies to transport inmates back to Boyd for court dates. Last week, Deputy jailers drove 10 hours to and from Paducah to pick up two inmates, Jailer Joe Burchett said.

KACo will also reimburse the county for lost revenue, since the county jail receives state money based on the number of inmates it houses.

Boyd County will have to pay a $500 deductible for the jail restoration claim. It’s unknown yet how much the wide-scale restoration will impact the county’s insurance costs next year.

Boyd’s insurance package through KACo includes general liability, auto, errors and omissions, public officials liability, employment practices, physical damage, property and crime and employee dishonesty insurance.

The county’s premium this fiscal year is $380,214 – an increase of about $23,000 from the previous year. The increase was a result of reappraisals and the construction of a new coroner’s office, Boyd County Insurance Administrator Trisha Leach said. The county paid a $350,000 premium to KACo in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

“I don’t know if it’ll have a great impact on your rates at this point,” Juett told the fiscal court. “We’ll be looking at all the factors.”

Those factors will include whether or not the damage to the jail could’ve been prevented, Juett said. “We’ll look at if it’s a problem that keeps creeping up … is it a risk issue or is it a one-off thing you rarely see … was it something anybody could really do much about to prevent,” he said.

Burchett, who’s been jailer since 2003, spoke in front of Judge-Executive Steve Towler and the county commissioners prior to the KACo presentation.

Burchett told The Daily Independent in the days following the riot he believed the inmates started a fire by jamming pencils into electrical sockets and igniting toilet paper, blankets and mail.

Jail staff now believe the inmates may have disconnected a camera system in a hallway and used wires in addition to pencils to spark the flames, Burchett told the fiscal court.

Commissioner John Greer suggested to Burchett the jail place cages over the cameras to prevent inmates from tearing them down again. Burchett said some of the cameras are mounted about 10 or 12 feet off the floor. “I guess they get on a pyramid on top of each other and get up there and tear them down,” Burchett said.

Burchett pointed out that the Boyd County jail, like hundreds of jails across Kentucky and the country, is overcrowded.

“We had 300 inmates with 205 beds in the facilities,” said Burchett.

The jail’s population size contributes to problems within its walls, he said. Burchett then suggested the state should begin reopening private jails. Former Gov. Steve Beshear ended the state’s controversial use of for-profit jails in 2013.

Talks of reviving private jails rekindled after Gov. Matt Bevin took office. The Bevin administration has taken steps to place state inmates in a private prison in Lee County.

Greer said during the fiscal court meeting the county should work to limit the number of state prisoners it houses. Some of the inmates at the Boyd County Detention Center were not arrested or convicted in Boyd County but were placed at the jail a result of overcrowding. The additional inmates also result in more revenue for the county.

“ We all want to pat you on back to have those state prisoners because we’re getting $31.25 a day,” said Greer. “But we need to take some responsibility … This was a wakeup call for all of us. We need to control that population.”

Greer noted the difficulty in accomplishing that goal.

The county expects to receive “$3.68 million from property taxes and 54 percent of that goes to the jail. But 76 percent of your budget comes from state prisoners,” Greer told Burchett.

Commissioner Carl Tolliver suggested the county “revisit building additional non-max security type rooms.”

“We don’t have to spend a lot on it now,” said Tolliver. “… That’s the only way I see you’re going to manage the old side (of the jail building.)”

Tolliver also suggested the jail building needs a more thorough inspection after four inmates broke out of the jail in July. Three of the four were captured within a week. But the fourth, Timothy Bates, was not apprehended until last week.

Burchett and the jail staff blamed the escape on a design flaw on the newer side of building. He said the flaw was fixed after the break out.

In about two weeks, the jail hopes to re-open the “old side” of the jail, Burchett said. But jail officials don’t yet have a firm date on when the jail will be fully reopened. The state Department of Corrections must be willing to give its stamp of approval before inmates are transported back.

(606) 326-2651 |

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