In Letcher County, we have been fighting the construction of a proposed federal prison for many years. It is no secret that the prison industrial complex, and especially for-profit private prison companies, work directly with congressional reps like Hal Rogers for their own benefit. During Rogers’ 2011-2012 election cycle, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) donated $16,500 to his campaign, the 3rd highest contributor to his efforts that year. Since then, CCA has changed their name to CoreCivic, but they are still profiting from keeping inmates locked up. Now, for the first time in several years, some of those inmates will again be Kentuckians.
In March of 2018, the state plans to move ~800 inmates to the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, which closed its doors in 2010 during a period of between 2008 and 2013 when several private prisons in KY were closed due to rampant sexual abuse, lack of accommodations for inmates with substance use disorders, and other serious problems. CoreCivic still owns the Lee Adjustment Center, as well as two other prisons in St. Mary and Wheelwright, KY. Under the ownership of CoreCivic, the Lee Adjustment Center was home to a prison riot in 2004, and countless cases of sexual abuse were filed at the facility in Wheelwright, KY.
It is clear to us that Bevin’s administration has made this decision under pressure from Hal Rogers, who has vehemently fought and lobbied to keep the allocated $444 million federal dollars for the construction of USP Letcher, despite much backlash from both the local community and prison abolitionists and organizers nationwide. Appalachian Kentucky deserves federal investments for projects that genuinely benefit our community, such as drug rehab centers. Even Senator Rand Paul and the Trump administration have stated that they oppose the construction of USP Letcher. We here in Letcher County want better for our community and state, and are tired of our representatives making inhumane decisions that they will profit from at great cost to our people, economy, and land.