Joe Burchett

Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett has overseen a string of incidents at his detention center in 2017. 

Ten maximum security inmates in eastern Kentucky overpowered two jail guards this weekend , escaped their cell and set fire to two exit doors before authorities regained control.

The riot is the latest in a string of escapes, overdoses and legal issues at the Boyd County Detention Center in Catlettsburg, Kentucky.

But Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett says it’s not his fault.

“This keeps happening, I’m not going to get re-elected,” Burchett said. “This concerns me. And I’m not responsible for it. They (inmates) are needy people. We’re a little strict on them here and they don’t like it.”

Burchett said inmates used a broom handle to break a sprinkler system, flooding their cellblock hallway.

The flooding also damaged facility control systems, leading Burchett to order the water shut off. Burchett said employees were preparing to move the maximum security inmates from the flooded cell when they overpowered two deputies, who retreated to wait for back-up.

Though no one was seriously injured in the riot, the jail was forced to evacuate 28 inmates.

Saturday’s riot is the fifth major incident under Burchett’s watch this year. Five inmates escaped custody in two separate July incidents, with one man still on the loose. In April, eight female inmates overdosed while in custody.

Earlier this summer, a former jail employee won a $75,000 settlement against Burchett, who the employee claimed ignored repeated complaints about sexual harassment from a third employee.

Jail personnel say they plan to review operation procedures following the riot, and the detention center should be ready to house inmates again by next week.

Burchett said the weekend riot is indicative of increased violence he’s observed among inmates.

“There are certain ones who get together and feed off each other,” he said. “They’re angry at their own moms. We try to be a little strict on them here. … They want, they want, they want. Thing is, they keep coming back to jail. You let one out, and you look up and they’re back in here again. I guess we can’t be too rough on them.”

The Kentucky State Police is conducting an investigation of the riot.

Snyder and Adkins write for the Ashland, Kentucky, Daily Independent.

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