Kentucky is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. The Commonwealth of Kentucky is known for its extensive culture, which includes activities such as horse racing and bourbon production, as well as notable objects like Louisville Slugger baseball bats and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Although the state is lovely and full of culture, it also has some of the worst prisons. In this blog post, we will discuss such jails.
Why are Kentucky Prisons the Worst?
If you ask most people what they think of when they hear the word "prison," they'll envision a dark and dreary place where criminals are locked away for the rest of their lives. But what if we tell you that there's a place where prisoners are routinely subjected to inhumane conditions, where violence is rampant, and where basic human needs are often left unmet?
Welcome to Kentucky's prison system; here, prisoners are routinely placed in solitary confinement for extended periods, sometimes 23 hours a day, with no human contact. They're given inadequate medical care, and many suffer from mental illness and addiction.
The conditions in Kentucky's prisons are so bad that they've been deemed "unconstitutional" by a federal judge.
In a scathing opinion issued last year, Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove wrote that the state's prison system is "plagued by serious constitutional deficiencies" and "subjects prisoners to dangerous conditions that fail to meet basic human needs."
Overview of Prisons in the state of Kentucky
Prisons in Kentucky have a long and varied history. The first prison in the state was built in Frankfort in 1800 and was known as the "Kentucky Penitentiary." Today, Kentucky has a total of 84 prisons in its 120 counties. The largest prison in the state is the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, which houses over 4,000 inmates. The Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) administers the prison system.
The KDOC oversees all aspects of the state's prison system, including security, rehabilitation programs, and food service. The department also operates several correctional facilities for juveniles.
List of Prisons in the State of Kentucky
- Green River Correctional Complex
- Kentucky State Reformatory
- Luther Luckett Correctional Complex
- Kentucky State Penitentiary
- Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women
- Western Kentucky Correctional Complex
- United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy
1. Green River Correctional Complex
The Green River Correctional Complex is a Central City, Kentucky, state-run prison. It has been open since 1994; as of 2007, it houses 982 inmates. It is a medium-security adult male correctional facility run by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Department of Corrections. The prison has 250 acres (1.0 km2) and 254 staff members, with an annual cost of $11,710.79 to house the inmates.
The facility has three medium security general population housing units with 444 double bunk cells, one maximum security segregation unit with 44 single bunked cells and a fifty-bed open dorm-style minimum security unit.
There are several reasons why Green River Correctional Complex (GRCC) is considered the worst prison in the United States. For one, the prison is overcrowded and understaffed. This has led to many problems, including violence, unsanitary conditions, and a general feeling of insecurity among inmates.
In addition, GRCC is located in a remote area, which makes it difficult for prisoners to receive visitors or access outside support. This isolation can compound the problems that inmates face, making it even harder to cope with the conditions inside the prison.
2. Kentucky State Reformatory
The Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR) is a medium-security prison that houses adult males. The prison is located in unincorporated Oldham County, Kentucky, near La Grange and about 30 miles northeast of Louisville. KSR opened its doors in 1940 as a replacement for the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort after flood damage rendered the property inhabitable. As of 2020, KSR can house 1053 inmates.
On August 25, 1976, Jerald L. Kendrick, an inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary, filed a 40-page lawsuit in the United States District Court for Paducah. The case was known as Kendrick et al. vs. Bland and Thompson et al., relating to David H. Bland's abuse of state employees who worked with him on his campaigns.
Notable inmates in the prison system include Michael Carneal, Harry Edward Greenwell, Steve Nunn, Louie B. Nunn, Gary Scott Pennington, and Dustin McPhetridge.
3. Luther Luckett Correctional Complex
The Luther Luckett Correctional Complex is a state prison in Oldham County, Kentucky. It opened in 1981 and had a prison population of 1,204 as of 2018. The Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center is officially a separate facility but shares several facilities with the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex.
The prison is overcrowded and understaffed. Another reason Luther Luckett is considered the worst prison in America is the conditions inside. The facility is incredibly dirty and unsanitary, with mold and mildew growing on the walls and ceilings.
Due to massive staffing shortages during the 2015–16 fiscal year, the plant operates on two 12-hour shifts five days a week. This has been observed as an increase in income and heavily condemned by others because of their families' being away so frequently, as well as being a major source of mental and physical strain.
4. Kentucky State Penitentiary
The Kentucky State Penitentiary, also known as the "Castle on the Cumberland," is a maximum-security and supermaximum prison with a capacity for 856 inmates in Eddyville, Kentucky, on Lake Barkley near the Cumberland River, about 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) from downtown Eddyville.
The Kentucky State Penitentiary is located in Eddyville, and the Department of Corrections operates it. It is Kentucky's oldest prison building and the only one owned by the Commonwealth. Male death row inmates and the Commonwealth of Kentucky's execution facility are housed at the prison.
The penitentiary houses 350 staff members and has an annual $20 million budget as of 2015. Most inmates aren't sentenced here initially but rather are brought to the prison from other less secure correctional facilities in the state because of their violent or disruptive behavior.
5. Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women
The Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women (KCIW) is a women's prison in unincorporated Shelby County, Kentucky, near Pewee Valley, Kentucky, operated by the Kentucky Department of Corrections. Male and female prisoners were held at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort (1912 name changed to Kentucky State Reformatory in Frankfort.) before 1937.
Several allegations and convictions of guards in state prisons sexually abusing and attacking prisoners, such as James Johnson, Demar Jones, and Shane Fisher. More males than females work at the institute.
Male coworkers have also harassed female correctional workers, according to some studies. Correctional employees account for roughly 15% of all Kentucky state workers, but they make up almost 50% of all sexual harassment allegations.
6. Western Kentucky Correctional Complex
As of October 2019, the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex (WKCC) near Fredonia had 693 prisoners--493 men and 200 women. WKCC is a segregated, dual-sex, medium-security prison in Lyon County, Kentucky.
The Western Kentucky Farm Center was built in 1968 to house KSP personnel who worked on farms and ranches outside the facility's walls. In 1977, it became a separate entity. The prison is a minimum-security prison with under 100 beds. Medium-security features were incorporated into WKCC in 1989 after it became the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex.
This place is notorious for its poor conditions, bad food, and violent inmates. The conditions at the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex are deplorable. The cells are overcrowded and filthy, which is quite predictable, being the prison is the largest in the state. It's no wonder that so many prisoners try to escape.
7. United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy
The United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy (USP Big Sandy) is a high-security United States federal prison for male inmates in unincorporated Martin County, Kentucky, near Inez. It is run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a United States Department of Justice.
The Us Bureau of Investigation (USP) Big Sandy is located in eastern Kentucky, about 133 miles from Lexington and 140 miles from Frankfort, with 320 miles from Washington, DC. The facility also has a minimum-security male inmate satellite camp at another location.
One of the main reasons the United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy, is considered one of the worst prisons is the high levels of violence within its walls. Inmates are often forced to live in fear of being attacked by fellow inmates or guards. The prison also has a history of inmate riots and uprisings, which have resulted in property damage and injuries.
In October 2006, Terrell Johnson--an inmate at USP Big Sandy who was 33 and serving a sentence for armed bank robbery--used a shank (a prison-made weapon) to kill Calvin Speight by stabbing him in the neck. On November 12, 2006, Darryl Milburne (58478-066) and Dwayne Gravely (12867-050), both inmates at the time, beat and choked Shamoni Peterson to death. Milburne and Gravely were then charged with murder, assault, and evidence tampering.
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