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WKYT Investigates: Out-of-state prisoners

With a population around 1200, Beattyville is a town tucked away in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
But there is a population of people in Lee County that many outside the county line may not know about. More than 400 inmates lodged in the Lee Adjustment Center are from Vermont.

The Corrections Corporation of America has run the prison since 2003. Lee County Judge Executive Steve Mays says it means money for those that call Beattyville home.
"I think some people are surprised it's not Kentucky inmates," Mays said.

Our WKYT investigation revealed 51 inmates are housed at the Lee Adjustment Center on murder charges, 122 are serving time for crimes involving sex abuse and sexual assault, and 20 inmates are there on robbery related charges, 60 are burglary related.

Vermont's Supplemental Housing Manager says they send their own here because of the lack of beds in Vermont. Prisoners are picked to head south based on a couple of criteria: They have to be fully sentenced with either a felony or misdemeanor, and they have to be serving six months or more.

"A prisoner is a prisoner," Mays said. "Some are worse than others, but they have done an excellent job of security out there."

But back in January, Vermont officials asked to put the prison on lockdown after an incident in October of 2013 when an inmate slashed another with a razor. After that, Vermont corrections officials say the number of assaults was "off trend." To put a stop to it and examine the problem, they locked down the facility in January. Since then, Vermont officials say the kinks have been worked out. There's now more control and better supervision.

As for the people of Beattyville, they look to the prison not as a threat, but an opportunity.

"It's keeping our people working and keeping our economy going because these small counties have a hard enough time bringing in jobs and industry here. So something like the prison is a big part of our economy," Mays said.

A small town profiting from a small state's overflow.


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