For the past three years, the Prison Ecology Project, the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons and allies like RootsAction have opposed the construction of a new federal prison in Letcher County, Kentucky. The maximum-security, 700-acre facility would cost $444 million to construct and is expected to hold at least 1,088 detainees. If constructed as planned, the Letcher County Penitentiary and Federal Prison Camp would be built on top of a toxic former coal-mining site.
Click here to email Congress to drop this plan.
Coal waste, which contains carcinogens like arsenic, lead, and mercury, is a byproduct of coal-mining that can be extremely dangerous to humans. Reports from prisoners at other facilities located near and on top of coal-processing sites reveal a host of health and medical problems associated with coal waste exposure, including respiratory illnesses, gastrointestinal problems, dermatological conditions and thyroid disorders.
After three steady years of nationwide grassroots organizing, including a march to the doorsteps of the Department of Justice last year, the Bureau of Prisons has finally decided that it does not want or need to go forward with constructing the new federal prison in Letcher County. Further, President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal includes significant cuts to federal prison construction, allocating zero funds to constructing the Letcher County Penitentiary and Federal Prison Camp.
“The FY 2018 budget proposes a $444 million rescission in unobligated New Construction balances, originally appropriated in FY 2016 for the construction of a new facility in Letcher County, KY . . . this proposal will result in stoppage of any major site work, preliminary project work and/or planned contract activities for this construction project.”
— U. S. Department of Justice, Fiscal Year 2018 Performance Budget, Congressional Submission
Despite the DOJ’s opposition to the project, Trump’s budget cuts, and our grassroots campaign to stop the construction of toxic prisons nationwide, Congress—led by U.S. Representative Hal Rogers—has insisted that they will go forward with the $444 million project. They rely on the unwavering support of corporate construction contractors, private engineers and architectural specialists, and Letcher County residents who are eager to usher in this economic boom.
“I will work to protect funding for critical services as Congress continues the appropriations process for the rest of 2017 and fiscal year 2018. As of right now, the Letcher County Prison is still on schedule and the record of decision is expected to be finalized later this year.” — U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers
Will you ask Congress to take a stand against the construction of a new federal prison on top of a toxic former coal-mining site?
Send a letter to your representative and senators in Congress stating your opposition to this project.
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-- The RootsAction.org Team
P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.