Bell County Jail ordered closed by Ky DOC, Bell County Judge Executive gives statement
Updated: Feb 1, 2020
From The KYDOC and WRIL
By order of the Kentucky Department of Corrections, the Bell County Detention Center has been ordered closed. The order went out and the staff was told Friday afternoon January 31, 2020 that inmates must be evacuated from the facility no later than 5:00pm on Wednesday February 5, 2020.
At the heart of the closure is a failure of the facility to fix an inoperable smoke evacuation system vital to the jail's operation and protection of the inmates housed in the building.
A previous order had been issued by the KYDOC back in October of 2019 mandating that the detention center close by December 1, 2019 and then an extension on the deadline was given for January 30 after the first timeline was not met. The KYDOC states that the sytem is still not working as of Friday January 31, 2020.
Judge Executive Albey Brock tells WRIL that it is disappointing that media outlets with whom he has had long-standing working relationships in the past would publish this information before asking the county's stance on the matter.
Judge Brock continues: “Having said that, this is an issue that we have been working on for a number of months, we soon will have the issue corrected. What has apparently happened is with the new state administration and new leadership in the department of corrections, we have had a breakdown in communications and the issue is being worked on as I speak” The judge went on to tell us: “I expect no issues, the jail will stay open.”
Gary Ferguson was unable to comment as he lost his father this week and is attending to funeral arrangements.
Commissioner Kathleen Kenney has told other media, namely the Times Tribune that: “Our safety concerns were not addressed, which led us to close the jail.” State statute gives the KYDOC the authority for the closing if the health and safety of the inmates are in violation or are impending.
WRIL hopes to have more on this situation shortly.