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Kentucky: Opposition to private prison proposal.

Prison privatization plan draws opposition

By Jared Nelson
(Princeton) Times Leader Staff Writer

EDDYVILLE -- A Frankfort proposal toward prison privatization is a bad move for the state, a group of current corrections employees and supporting state legislators said this week.

Larry Bland, president of the Barkley Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, met with fellow corrections employees and state Reps. Mike Cherry and J.R. Gray in Eddyville Monday to speak out against a plan by some state officials to put prison services out for bid to private contractors.

At the beginning of the month, the state Department of Corrections began soliciting proposals from firms interested in taking over food service operations at state correctional facilities, including the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville and the West Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia.

Bland said the privatization trend could grow to include the rest of the prisons' employees, including correctional officers.

Such a move would negatively impact the employees involved, the inmates and the communities involved.

"They are prisons for profit," he said, adding that private prisons' costs were often more expensive, because a profit margin was added to the costs of prison operation.

Bland also said private prisons may also offer lower wages and fewer medical benefits than those operated by the government.

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