Opening in 1981, the Kentucky Psychiatric Correctional Facility was, in part, a replacement of the Grauman Unit at Central State Hospital which housed forensic prisoners. The Grauman Unit had a total of thirty beds and was plagued with complaints and grand jury investigations due to prison escapes as the unit was never intended to be a secure facility to house “dangerous” felony-level prisoners. Before its closing, the Grauman Unit evaluated approximately 800 people a year. In Mid-June of 1981, Kentucky’s Justice Department came to a tentative agreement to transfer the operation of the new Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center, to the State Department for Human Resources’ Bureau of Health Services. The hospital was intended to treat inmates who developed psychiatric problems. The Center is part of the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex on the grounds of the Kentucky State Reformatory at La Grange. Unlike the Grauman Unit at Central State Hospital, the new Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center was designed to the standards of a modern maximum security facility.
The cost of the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center came in at around $5 million dollars and had a total of 97 beds. It was touted as marking the beginning of a new approach to treating emotionally disturbed prisoners. At the time, only about half a dozen other states had similar hospitals offering psychiatric and forensic services for prisoners. Before the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center was built, Kentucky State Reformatory had a 24-bed forensic hospital and a 25-bed “special needs” unit at Kentucky State Penitentiary (Eddyville). Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center, Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, Roederer Farm Center, and Kentucky State Reformatory came together to form a very large correctional complex in La Grange. However, a group of patients at the Grauman Unit petitioned United States District Judge Eugene Siler Jr. to block their transfer to Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center. The State Justice Department’s Office of Public Advocacy sought an injunction on behalf of the Grauman Unit inmates. Judge Siler said that he, “does not find that the plaintiffs have showed irreparable injury” to the Grauman Unit inmates and that it would not be a constitutional violation transferring all of the inmates to Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center. Therefore, Judge Siler’s ruling did not block the transfer and it went ahead as planned.
At its opening, Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center had a full-time staff of 115 professionals. This included two psychiatrists, two psychologists, four social workers, 30 nurses, two recreational specialists, two occupational therapists, and about 50 corrections officers. The Center was directed by Ralph W. Evitts, the former associate superintendent at Eddyville. Evitts explicitly made it clear that Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center was not a hospital or medical facility but a prison and was governed by the same rules as the main prison. The Center opened with five wings with the capability of each wing being individually sealed off. Three wings contained 25 single cells for men, the other with 14. The fifth wing had eight single cells for women. Each wing was equipped with a central monitoring station. Beds in the cells consisted of mattresses on concrete slabs and the toilet and water fixtures were stainless steel. There were no windows in cells with the exception of heave plate glass in the the door and front wall. Each wing had its own staff but shared the psychiatrists, psychologists, and several other specialists. In addition to psychiatric pathology, they were able to establish treatments for drug and alcohol use disorders as well.
Contributed by Phil Tkacz & Shawn Logan | firstname.lastname@example.org
⁘ Works Cited ⁘
- The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 23 January 1981, p. 6.
- The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 1 July 1981, p. 13.
- The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 11 September 1981, p. 29.
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