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Plan for Letcher prison receives boost forward

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is moving forward with plans to build a prison in Letcher County, commissioning an environmental impact study on potential sites here.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers said one site is 584 acres in Roxana and the other 753 acres in Payne Gap.

The plan to build a federal prison in Kentucky has been in the works since 2006, when Rogers — working with the volunteer group the Letcher County Planning Associated — secured $5 million in Congress to begin the planning process.

“I’m thrilled to announce that the BOP is moving forward on a future federal prison in Letcher County,” said Rogers. “I applaud the diligence and tenacity of the Letcher County Planning Commission in rallying around this effort and pressing on during the site selection process. We’ve shown that our region has a high-quality, skilled workforce and we can meet this law enforcement need for service. The (environmental impact study) is an important and encouraging step forward for Letcher and the surrounding counties and I’m proud to be a part of the team.”

Elwood Cornett, chairman of the county planning commission, told the Letcher Fiscal Court this week that it is extremely rare for an Environmental Impact Study to be favorably concluded without a prison being approved. Cornett said the going has been slow but this will be an important step in locating a prison here.

A recent Congressional Research Service report said the country’s federal prison population is almost nine times what it was in 1980, ballooning from 50,000 to 219,000 in 2012.

— From staff, AP reports

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