Free time was reduced, abuse allegations increased before riot Associated Press BEATTYVILLE, Ky. - A doubling of the population with prisoners from 1,000 miles away, cuts in privileges and reduced time to visit with friends and family are some of the reasons observers cite for a riot at the privately run Lee Adjustment Center this week.
Barry Kade, a Vermont lawyer and a member of the Alliance for Prison Justice, an advocacy group that works to improve conditions for Vermont inmates, said he has received an increasing number of complaints from Vermont inmates sent to Kentucky this year to relieve prison crowding in Vermont. "Usually when there's a prison riot it occurs after months or years of intolerable conditions," Kade said.
The increasingly common practice of states sending inmates to private prisons in other states has exacerbated problems, said some outside observers.
"It's very clear that shipping prisoners far from their families is not good criminal justice policy, " said Peter Wagner, assistant director of Prison Policy Initiative, a non profit policy and research group in Massachusetts.
Ray Flum, director of inmate classification for the Vermont Department of Corrections, said the state has been sending prisoners to publicly run prisons out of state for a number of years. But its contract with Corrections Corporation is its first with a private corporation.
Corrections Corporation also experienced riots in July at prisons it runs in Colorado and Mississippi - both of which house out-of-state inmates.
Chickering said the company doesn't believe adding prisoners from another state was the cause of the uprisings.
"We have had out-of-state inmates at numerous facilities for many years without incident, " she said. (This statement is complete nonsense. icb)
But others say a concentration of inmates hundreds of miles from friends and family can lead to problems at prisons.
"I think this latest uprising fits into this general pattern of unhappiness by prisoners who have been transported out of state," said Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News, a Vermont-based magazine about the prison industry.
Vermont inmates at Beattyville complained to Kade that visits from friends and family - who must drive about 1,000 miles to Kentucky - were cut to two hours a week. Free time on the yard was cut and some inmates alleged they were mistreated through physical abuse or by being put into isolation without having committed any violation, he said.
Chickering said free time was restricted as a security measure around the time the Vermont inmates arrived at the prison.
"We think it makes sense as a management philosophy," she said.
Chickering said prisoners had adequate space at the facility originally built to house 500 inmates. Before taking in additional inmates from Vermont, the company built a 256-bed unit and added 60 bunks in existing dormitories at the prison, bringing the capacity to 816. At the time of Tuesday night's riot, the prison held 803 inmates.
Kentucky Corrections Commissioner John Rees - a former Corrections Corporation official - said Thursday that the facility was not crowded. "That just hasn't been an issue," he said.
Chickering said staff increased from 165 to 211 after the population increased by 300 inmates. The facility made room for the Vermont inmates by sending some Kentucky inmates to other facilities, Kentucky corrections officials said.
Kentucky, Vermont and Corrections Corporation have all