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Riot Report Delayed

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh.

State officials now say a final report on the cause of a recent riot at a central Kentucky prison will be made public early next week.

Corrections officials had planned to release the findings of a Critical Incident Review Team today, but the report won’t reach Justice Secretary Michael Brown’s hands until late this afternoon, and he will need time to study it.

The review team has been investigating why prisoners at the Northpoint Training Center near Danville rioted August 21st.

During the melee, six buildings, including the prison kitchen, were destroyed by fire. Several inmates and staff were treated for minor injuries, but there were no escapes.

Two employees of the prison who testified before legislative panels in Frankfort blamed lousy food and prison yard restrictions for the riot, but gang violence has also been cited.

More than 100 inmates of the prison face disciplinary action in connection with the disturbance.

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Prison Riot Report To Be Released Friday

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

A total lockdown that followed an inmate-on-inmate assault is the cause of an August riot at a central Kentucky prison.

That’s the opinion of Northpoint Training Center employee Vick Morris, who testified before a legislative panel in Frankfort Thursday.

Morris called the food at the prison, “slop,” but said it was not the cause of the riot.

“When the controlled movement announcement and these new schedules were posted in the dorms by the unit administrators just before they boogied, it ignited very volatile fuses. The riot was all about some muscle flexing back, not about crappy vittles, per se,” Morris said.

Corrections Commissioner Ladonna Thompson listened to Morris’ testimony, but chose not to respond. She says the facts will come out Friday, when a Critical Incident Review Team that studied the riot issues its final report.

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Report on Riot Cause Due Within Two Weeks

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

A final report is expected within two weeks from a Critical Incident Review Team assessing possible causes of the August riot at Northpoint Training Facility near Danville. The riot left six buildings at the medium-security Kentucky prison destroyed by fire and several staff and inmates with minor injuries. There were no escapes.

Meals from a private vendor have been cited as a possible cause, but Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson says she won’t know until she sees the report.

“They’ve spoken with the inmates. They’ve spoken with the staff. They’ve gone through documents that existed pre-riot. And those are the things they’re putting together for me so we can find out is it beyond that,” says Thompson. “I’ve heard the rumor as you have, but there are several other issues that are being bandied about at the same time. So, until I get the report, I wouldn’t want to step out there and say.”

Sen. John Schickel of Union says his experience in law enforcement tells him otherwise.

“In my experience of jail and prison disturbances, those causes really boil down to one thing and that’s a breakdown in inmate discipline,” says Schickel.

The state began outsourcing food at the prison in 2005. Other possible causes of the riot include gang violence and prison yard restrictions. More than 100 inmates face disciplinary action in connection with the riot.

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Life at Northpoint Far From Normal

Life is far from back-to-normal at Northpoint Training Center, where inmates rioted and burned much of the central Kentucky prison on August 21st. Spokesperson Mendalyn Cochran says several buildings were destroyed in the blaze, but about 500 inmates have been returned to six dorms that were reopened following minor repairs.

“They’re receiving their mail, and getting telephone calls from family and friends,” says Cochran. “They have a limited canteen at this point, but we’re trying to let them buy the things that they need and they’re getting medical services. And you know, we’re just doing the best we can as resuming parts of our normal operation every day and just improvising with what we have.”

She says many of their operations are in off-site or temporary locations.

“Visitation has not started back yet, but we are looking at plans – you know the visiting room burned down – so we’re looking at plans to find an alternate site to do the visitation and those plans are in the works, but no timeline has been set on when that will be up and running,” says Cochran.

About 700 inmates have been moved from Northpoint to other Kentucky prisons. An investigation continues into what triggered the riot. A Kentucky Fire Marshal’s report on the incident said the facility also sustained damage to doors, walls, and plumbing fixtures.

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Northpoint Facing Months Of Repair Work

Thanks to Stu Johnson, Kentucky Public Radio/WEKU, Richmond

Two of the damaged dormitories at the Northpoint Training Center could be operational by the end of this week. That’s the assessment of Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown. The medium security prison in Boyle County was the site of inmate unrest last Friday that resulted in minor injuries to 16 people and extensive fire damage.

Still, Brown says it could be months before the Northpoint facility returns to normal operations. 700 inmates have since been transferred to other prisons. Brown says officials are reviewing security tapes and talking to inmates about what triggered the unrest.

“We think the inmates themselves will give us a lot of information and then we’ll just have to put it all together. In that situation in the dark in a fire at some point it would be hard to tell who was doing the good stuff and who was doing the bad stuff,” Brown said Monday.

Brown says it’s possible all six buildings damaged by fire could be demolished and rebuilt. He says inmates did have access to matches as smoking was allowed in parts of the prison.