Security Concerns At Blackburn Prison in Lexington

It's a minimum security facility, with what some call a major issue.

In Kentucky, there are 16 state prisons. Blackburn Correctional Complex, in Lexington, is one four minimal security prisons in the state.

But many who work there say they're fed up, because the prison has serious security and safety problems.

Blackburn may be a minimum security prison, however, that doesn't mean prisoners are not a concern.

Four prisoners have walked away from Blackburn so far this year. That's down from years before but some correctional officers say it not surprising, considering the conditions officers are forced to work in.

The Blackburn Correctional Complex has operated from its Lexington location since 1972. Since then, several homes have gone up around the institution.

Warden Joe Rion says Blackburn's number one priority is public safety.

But according to one employee, "there's no security at Blackburn at this point."

The concern is about what's going on behind the prison walls.

Several correctional officers are raising the issue of mandatory over time in an understaffed prison, calling it, "a public safety issue."

Another officer says at times there can be as few as five to six officers on hand for as many as 600 inmates.

Warden Rion admits the prison is understaffed, but says it's nothing to worry about.

Two correctional officers who talked to 27 NEWSFIRST say the staff is at its last end. They go on to say they're working five doubles shifts at times anywhere from 15 to 18 hours.
18 hours

Warden Rion says, "If somebody works that much it's by choice." But when asked if that's in the best interest of community and security Rion says "it's not an ideal situation.

A situation the some correctional officers say the inmates are hipped to. They worry is that could lead to chaos in the community especially Masterson Station, a nearby subdivision.

"It's better to have someone work overtime even if they are tired than to not have any one at the post. We're not in a business where we can put a close sign up and turn out the lights."

Even with lights on some correctional officers worry about the worse thing that could happen within the walls of Blackburn.

So far this year, the Department of Corrections has paid more than 280 thousand dollars in overtime to correctional officers.

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