Kentucky state police and corrections officials yesterday launched an investigation into a riot Tuesday night in which inmates of a Lee County prison set two buildings on fire. None of the 803 male prisoners escaped, and there were no major injuries at the Lee Adjustment Center, a privately run, medium-security prison north of Beattyville. The prison is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.
Authorities said the uprising began about 7 p.m. when at least nine inmates began trying to tear down a round wooden guard tower in the middle of the recreation yard. Other inmates joined in the attack on the tower and other structures in the yard. Later, inmates started a fire in the main administration building and in one of three housing units. The riot was quelled about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday by prison guards using pepper spray and tear gas. The prison company houses about 63,000 prisoners in 20 states. Kentucky pays the company $38.44 per prisoner per day to provide security, medical care, shelter and food to state inmates. Of the 803 prisoners at the facility as of yesterday, 376 were Kentuckians and the others were from Vermont, housed under a contract with that state.