Boyd County Jail

Boyd County Jail property in Catlettsburg. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

Sixty state inmates are being removed from the Boyd County Detention Center in order to relieve overcrowding pressure while the new jailer works to address multiple security concerns at the facility.

"It started this morning," Jailer William Hensley said Thursday of the inmate removals.

The inmates being removed are tier three and four inmates, meaning they posed the highest security threats of the approximate 90 state inmates at the jail. The removal of inmates was expected to continue today. They were scheduled to be transferred to various correctional institutions throughout the Commonwealth as Boyd County continues to work to get its jail in order.

The move of the inmates is expected to cost the county money as well — the state pays the county a daily fee to house the state inmates. Earlier this year the state was paying up to $31 per day to the county per inmate. Hensley said a time frame was not set for when the state inmates would be returned.

"Short-term financial investments need to be made to make long-term progress," Hensley said. "The first set of inmates left today. The next set leave tomorrow (Friday). This is being done with the complete support of both the incoming and outgoing fiscal courts. No one is in the dark. We are all working together."

Hensley said the moves are also made with the assistance of the Kentucky Department of Corrections, the Kentucky Association of Counties and others. It is not the first time state inmates were removed from the facility, which has been plagued by overdoses of inmates, escapes, a riot, a fire and three fatalities in the last six months. Two inmates died in just four days last week. One of those deaths involved a suspected overdose of fentanyl. The second fatality is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, prompting former Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett to resign on Monday.

Last year the state intervened and removed dozens of inmates due to security concerns at the Boyd County Detention Center. They were later returned this year. Hensley said as of Thursday there were about 327 inmates at the jail -- more than 100 inmates over capacity. With the removal of inmates Thursday and today the inmate population of the jail was expected to drop to about 240 inmates.

In other steps aimed at improving security Hensley is attending a mandatory training conference next week. At least one jail administrator from Christian County is coming to Boyd to fill in while Hensley is away.

"That is at no cost to the county it is a favor from them," Hensley said.

In addition, with the assistance of the Kentucky Department of Corrections and the Kentucky Association of Counties, a team of jail professionals from across the state will come to Boyd County to help train current jail staff. The mandatory training will be in mid to late-December. Jail professionals from across the state will help with jail security while the training takes place. That bill for assistance is being paid for by the Kentucky Association of Counties.

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gpuit@dailyindependent.com

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