Riot so damaged Kentucky prison that it'll have to be razed

BURGIN, Ky. — The burned and riot-torn buildings of Northpoint Training Center will probably be torn down and rebuilt, Kentucky Secretary of Justice and Public Safety J. Michael Brown said Monday.

The buildings to be razed comprise much of the medium-security prison. "We will have to start from scratch," Brown said.

However, two dorms should be reopened by the end of the week, and 300 inmates now housed in the gym and chapel will be moved there. Two hundred other inmates are living in the prison's only inhabitable dorm.

Brown and other officials toured Northpoint on Monday and revealed more details about the Friday night melee that injured 16. Authorities are reviewing security tapes and interviewing inmates as they investigate the riot.

The burning and rioting started after dinner, when inmates were moving between buildings, cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said. After smoke started building in the dorms, inmates were evacuated to the yard, where prisoners set more fires.

Eventually, six buildings were damaged extensively, and 700 of the prison's 1,200 inmates were transferred to 10 other prisons around the state.

Eight guards were treated for injuries on the scene. Eight inmates were taken to hospitals; all had been released from the hospitals as of Monday. Brown said the lack of serious injuries "was as close to a miracle as you can get."

Inmates at the Boyle County prison had been on lockdown — they had no access to the prison yard — since Aug. 18. The lockdown was ordered after 10 to 15 Hispanic inmates assaulted a black inmate and a white inmate, Brislin said.

Northpoint officials had not identified everyone involved in that altercation, so they implemented the lockdown to avoid further fights while they investigated, she said.

On Friday, prison officials announced a "controlled movement" schedule — meaning inmates would be allowed to enter the yard on a dorm-by-dorm basis. That's when the inmates began to riot and set fires, leaving only one dormitory habitable.

Brislin said officials don't know whether the Aug. 18 fight led to the fires and the riot. Officials also aren't certain how the inmates started the fires. However, prisoners at Northpoint are allowed to have matches and may smoke outdoors, Brislin said. There has been no smoking allowed since the fire.

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