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Boyd County jailer resigns after drug-related inmate fatalities

December 5, 2018
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Lori Wolfe/The Herald-Dispatch Boyd County Detention Center exterior

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. — Following the death of two inmates in four days at the Boyd County Detention Center, Jailer Joe Burchett resigned and Judge-Executive Steve Towler appointed William Hensley, county jailer-elect, to start the job a month early.

Hensley was elected as county jailer last month. The term was set to begin in January, but he was named late Monday afternoon to take over from Burchett, who had served as jailer for 16 years. The jail has had a number of problems in the past two years, Towler said Tuesday.

“He was the only logical choice,” Towler said. “We wanted to move as quickly as we could. We had to do something. It’s been real rough sledding for everyone at the jail in the past two years.”

Burchett resigned Monday afternoon and Towler appointed Hensley as jailer a half-hour later.

The problem was exacerbated in the past few days when two inmates died from drug-related problems at the jail, according to Coroner Mark Hammond.

“I’m expecting a lot of changes in administrative policies,” Towler said. “I think safety will be better (with Hensley.) He has a big job ahead of him.”

Michael Moore, 40, an inmate jailed on public intoxication excluding alcohol (drugs), had been in the jail for 36 hours when he died, Hammond said.

A second inmate, Charles Shaun Finley, 36, was in the jail for about three weeks when he died from an apparent drug overdose, Hammond said.

The second drug fatality was from fentanyl or was fentanyl-related, Hammond said. “We’re awaiting toxicology reports. That could take two-and-a-half or three weeks.”

Two other inmates and a deputy jailer who did CPR also had to be hospitalized following the second drug fatality, Hammonds said. Several other inmates also got drugs at the jail, but didn’t require hospitalization, he said.

There have been a number of problems at the jail in the past two years including a riot and escapes. The State Department of Corrections removed dozens of prisoners from the jail earlier this year.

Hensley couldn’t be reached for comment.

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