From Ohio Valley Resource
You are Letcher County, Kentucky. You are rural, mountainous, and in the heart of the central Appalachian coalfields. Your economy is not in good shape. Fox News has called your largest town “the poster child for the war on coal.” You are offered funds to build a new federal prison. It could bring jobs but also brings up troubling moral issues. What do you do?
Call it the prison builder’s dilemma: Letcher County and other rural areas are wrestling with a choice between a potential economic boost and the ethical burden of becoming the nation’s jailers.
Coalfield economies have been hit hard by the industry’s recent decline and eastern Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District has been among the most affected. Today it has the second lowest median household income in the country, and the second-lowest rate of labor force participation. In recent years, a big chunk of the money flowing into the region has come through the Bureau of Prisons. Three federal penitentiaries have been built in the district, and now, money has been set aside to build a fourth— in Letcher County.
“I Don’t Know Anything Better”
Elwood Cornett is a retired educator and preacher of the distinctly Appalachian Old Regular Baptist tradition. More recently, he’s been serving as the head of the Letcher County Planning Commission, and a leader in the effort to bring a federal prison to Letcher County. Continue reading
From Earth First Journal
(also see video here.)
Report back from FTP Convergence Day of Action
from Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons
Over the weekend of June 11th an incredible array of folks gathered in Washington, DC for the Convergence to Fight Toxic Prisons anwd Support Eco-prisoners. After two days of networking, strategizing and listening to the wisdom of black liberation fighters like Ramona Africa and Jihad Abdulmumit as well as former eco-prisoners like Eric McDavid and Daniel McGowan – and so many more, folks hit the streets the morning of June 13th to raise some hell in the belly of the beast.
The Fight Toxic Prisons march got started bright and early to make sure that the prison pushers at the BOP did not get off to a good workday. Chanting “Burn prisons, not coal” and “Break the locks, no more cops!” about 50 people shut down the intersection in front of the BOP and blocked the entrance to their parking garage, preventing workers from getting in. After holding the space for an hour, and hearing some inspiring words from folks like Linda Shosie, a mother whose son is stuck inside a highly toxic prison, the march moved on to the Dept. of Justice and FBI headquarters which sit across the street from each other. Continue reading
From fighttoxicprisons.wordpress.com Political Prisoners and Environmentalists Vow to Stop Prison Plan on Appalachian Coal Mine
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former political prisoners will converge with environmental and prisoners’ rights activists in Washington D.C. under the banner of the #PrisonEcology movement. Direct actions, demonstrations, forums, and lobbying June 10th – 13th will focus on prison pollution affecting the 2.3 million individuals currently incarcerated in the U.S., as well as prison workers and residential communities surrounding detention facilities. The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) brought together the coalition participating in this multi-pronged weekend of protest.
“We knew we were held on a Superfund site at FCI Victorville, our only water contaminated with heavy metals and the very air we breathed laden with toxic dust,” said Eric McDavid, an environmental activist who served 9 years before the FBI released previously suppressed files that outlined his entrapment. California’s Victorville Prison is only one of many facilities around the country where serious environmental hazards put the health of inmates at risk of injury, disease, and death. Click here for a map of Examples of Environmental Justice Issues for U.S. Prisoner and Detainee Populations. Continue reading