DANVILLE — As the third anniversary of a fiery riot at a Central Kentucky prison approaches, prison officials say the facility has been rebuilt and soon will be back to the same population it once had.
Inmates at Northpoint Training Center in Danville set fire to several buildings during a melee Aug. 21, 2009. Six buildings, including the kitchen and all but one dormitory, later were declared uninhabitable.
"We have come a long way," Northpoint Warden Steve Haney told The Advocate Messenger of Danville. He said a new programs facility opened in June that includes several security upgrades and a new building for visitations.
On the night of the melee, corrections, law enforcement and fire personnel from across the state descended on the prison, but it took several hours to subdue the prisoners. No significant injuries were reported.
A review of the incident found the primary cause of upheaval was a lockdown imposed after a fight between two groups of prisoners.
Julie Thomas was one of the corrections workers who went to the scene.
"It was so overwhelming that night to see those buildings burning to the ground," Thomas said. "I was really surprised people weren't killed or seriously injured. It's amazing to me."
Haney said one of the major differences in the rebuilding of the facility is the increased security infrastructure. Security failures identified in a study after the riot included doors and locks in the dorms that were easily breached. The new buildings have security-grade exit doors and locks.
In addition, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said, fencing meets higher security standards, and new cameras have been installed.
"The facility is more secure, more modern and more energy efficient," Lamb said in an email. "There is also more room for inmate activities and for benefits such as library, canteen and more room for treatment programs."
Haney said that the current population at Northpoint is 1,098, and that the number would increase slowly to 1,256, the same as before the riot.