Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Otter Creek Closing Worries Town Officials

{Wheelwright, Kentucky}...With the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright set to close by summer, town officials are worried about the effect it will have on the area's economy. Kentucky paid Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America $21 million in fiscal 2010 to operate Otter Creek, along with the Marion Adjustment Center, which has roughly 800 Kentucky inmates and Lee Adjustment Center, which no longer houses Kentucky inmates. The men currently held at Otter Creek are being moved to Northpoint Training Center in Burgin. Elk Horn Coal Company founded the city in 1916 and named it for the company's then-president, Jere H. Wheelwright. As coal production slowed, businesses closed or struggled to stay open. The prison brought nearly 200 jobs when it opened in 1981. CCA paid employees $8.25 an hour, low pay by prison standards but welcome cash for the area. The prison once housed women from Hawaii and Kentucky, but the facility was at the center of a sex scandal that broke in 2009 when female inmates accused prison staff of forcing them to trade sexual favors for privileges. In January 2010, Governor Steve Beshear ordered the women removed, and the state transferred 400 female inmates to Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia. Hawaii removed 168 female inmates in 2009, sending them to a prison in Arizona.