VOLUME 9 - 2016-2017 - ISSUE 3
9 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 509 (2017).
FARMERS BEHIND BARS: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF PRISON FARM LABOR IN KENTUCKY AND BEYOND
Note Written By: Tatum Isaacs
In spite of the concerns raised about reviving slavery, many states are adopting farm programs in their prisons to teach inmates marketable skills, improve health, cut costs, promote sustainability, and reduce rates of recidivism. Some of these programs have sparked hope for rehabilitation among their organizers, but others have been unsuccessful ventures that were scaled back or eliminated entirely.
This Note will address how these programs have evolved through history, will explore arguments for and against them, and will look at these programs in Kentucky through the lens of both arguments. Based on its position in the Southern United States, Kentucky holds an important space within this discussion due to the South’s high rate of incarceration, especially among racial minorities. It is important to note that as with any system, there is some diversity in their operation across the nation. Prison farms produce a variety of crops and animals. Some of these farms raise crops that are then served to the inmates, while other farm produce leaves the prison grounds and is placed on the market instead. Some prison farms exist as one of many work options for prisoners who qualify, but others compel participation. Thus, this Note declines to make any broad statement regarding prison farms as a whole and instead argues that there are certain practices that are more problemati