Paducah leaders pass ordinance following Keeton Corrections escapes

PADUCAH — After years of escapes and walkaways from a department of corrections halfway house, the city of Paducah is taking action.

“If that trend continues, it’s is going to close itself down,” Commissioner Richard Abraham says of Keeton Corrections.

Abraham says neighbors grew concerned after the most recent escape from the halfway house in the middle of their neighborhood on Aug. 12.
The public wasn’t notified of the escape until 12 hours later.

The Paducah City commission passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring all private correctional facilities in Paducah to notify the Paducah Police Department, McCracken County Sheriff’s Department, Kentucky State Police, and all correctional facility employees within 30 minutes of an escape or otherwise unaccounted for inmate, parolee, or probationer.

Abraham says the most recent incident at Keeton was a wake up call that prompted the commission to do something to protect the neighbors that live near it and people across the region.

“This starts the process. I’ve heard the comments on ‘Why is this facility here? We have school kids on the corner waiting on the bus in the morning, we’ve got these guys sleeping in cars.’ All of these things are going on, so we start that process to lay some ultimatums down. But again, looking at the way the system is set up and the way that halfway house is set up with the lack of security it has by policy, I just don’t see that facility being there long term,” Abraham says.

City Manager Jim Arndt worked to get the ordinance drafted. While he says he’s pleased that it passed, it’s not a compromise between those who want to see the facility go and those who want it to stay.

“It’s not necessarily a happy medium, but it’s a place to start. The Keeton Correctional Facility has been in the city for several decades. It’s not a new facility, it’s been there where it’s been so this is not something like it just came to town. It’s not something we didn’t know was in town. Basically, we’re just trying to make sure we’re not acting out of haste, that we’re going to work with the facility, and basically just ask them to do the best job they possibly can. And, in the meantime, we’re going to do the best job we possibly can for the citizens of Paducah,” Arndt says.

From here on out, Keeton will have make the necessary changes to be in compliance with the ordinance. That means if there are any more escapes, you will be notified faster. That also means they could face revocation of their business license if they are found to be out of compliance with the new ordinance.

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