Northpoint riot report downplays risks

Members of the union representing Kentucky corrections officers said Monday that the Northpoint Training Center riot should lead to a "thorough review" of procedures at all state prisons.

"Details matter to us — our lives are on the line," said Derrick Lloyd, a corrections officer at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville.

During the riot at Northpoint, a medium-security prison, inmates burned several buildings. Eight inmates and eight corrections officers were injured.

The corrections officers said a state report on the Aug. 21 Northpoint riot "downplays several serious risk factors."

For example, there were not enough radios for the officers or cuffs to subdue inmates during the riot, the corrections officers said.

"If management refuses to acknowledge and deal with the known safety risks that correctional officers from all over the system are trying to raise, our safety and security will continue to be undermined," said Matt Hughes, a Northpoint corrections officer.

The state Corrections Department report, compiled by a team of current and former state corrections officials and released Friday, offered 12 recommendations. They included modernizing communications and assessing security equipment and supervision procedures.

The state report said the main reason for the riot was inmate anger over a lockdown and restrictions imposed following a fight. Also, the state report said concerns over the food provided by Aramark was not the main cause, as inmates and corrections officers had said earlier.

But the corrections officers — members of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union — said in a statement that the report "misses important details," including downplaying Aramark "food-service quality issues as a significant contributing factor."

Officials at the Philadelphia-based Aramark, which has a $12-million annual contract with the state to provide food to prisons, have said there's no evidence that the Northpoint riot was caused by anything but anger over prison yard restrictions. The food played no role in the riot, they said.

The corrections officers said the state report did not go far enough. At other Kentucky state prisons, the problems range from gates not working and insufficient protective equipment for corrections officers to inadequate lighting that puts inmates and staff at risk, the corrections officers said.

In response, Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said there were enough cuffs and radios at Northpoint during the riot and that the state had already been conducting a thorough review at all institutions.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader