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Fredonia: Sustainable Farming at the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex
13 Sep 2013
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In the United States the number of women in prison has risen by a stunning 823 percent between 1977 and 2012. The majority of these women have been sentenced for nonviolent crimes that stem from drug abuse and poverty. While Kentucky has only a handful of female correctional institutions, the Western Kentucky Correctional Center in Fredonia, Ky is home to one of the largest female inmate farming programs in the U.S. penitentiary system. This innovative program allows prisoners to take on the responsibility of sustainable farming within the confines of minimum and medium security facilities

WKCC covers 2,300 acres of land and was a men's prison from 1977 to 2010. Farm operations include caring for 12 bulls, 630 head of commercial cattle, 780 acres of row crops, 20 acres of garden crops, an apple orchard, and a large-scale composting operation. When the prison switched from male to female in 2010, the warden was faced with a difficult decision. There were concerns that the physical labor would prove too ambitious for the female inmates. After deciding to go ahead with the transition, it became apparent that the decision created a positive opportunity in an otherwise harsh environment.

Their time spent on the farm raises their self-esteem and plays a crucial part in their rehabilitation. The women work in groups doing often unfamiliar and challenging tasks that foster both independent thought and bonding. Through this they are able to create their own family-like network and support system. Unfortunately only a small percentage of the inmates are able to participate in the farming program, and other similar facilities do have programs such as this but on a much smaller scale.

To view more of this work, visit photographer Ashley Stinson's website, or follow her on Facebook.


The artist or arts organization telling this story was supported in part by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. KFW is based on the belief that when women and girls advance, so does Kentucky. For more information about the foundation and the social change artmaking being done by the individuals and organizations it supports, visit www.kfw.org." 

Photography Agriculture Community Cross-Cultural Culture Empowerment Environmentalism Gender Justice Recovery Rural-Urban Women Project/Initiative Southeast Agriculturalist Folklorist Photographer Farming Female_inmates Prisons
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