The old Kenton County Detention Center was one of the most dilapidated and notoriously foul correctional facilities in Kentucky at the time of its operation. I take responsibility for the actions that led me to live there, but what matters here is not what got me in there; it was the appalling conditions and encounters I witnessed and inhumane treatment I and the other inmates experienced. It is the isolation from society itself confined behind bricks and razor wire and the restriction and micromanagement of personal activities that serves as the punishment. But basic human rights and the freedom from cruel and unusual punishment is a fundamental tenant of our Bill of Rights.
-Typical cell-living conditions at the Kenton Co. Detention Center-
In the United States, individuals are supposed to be sent to prison as punishment, not FOR FURTHER PUNISHMENT. However, anyone that’s done any time knows that idea is a joke. Now, next to the eyesore of a luxury condominium building called the Ascent, the skeleton of the old jail is being refleshed to house more overpriced luxury condominiums. But let me take you back in time, to my first day in this “tower of tyranny” as it was dubbed. The first waft as I entered booking and processing was a noxious acrid stench that I would soon learn to become accustomed too. I was then led to cell 955, where the condition looked very much the same as this picture from inside the old KCDC.
The cell was designed for a maximum occupancy of 15 inmates; that’s how many “racks’ there were. But the cell was overcrowded, with at times 30 inmates, who slept on sand matts on the floor. One bathroom to share between us all. One roll of toilet paper would periodically be tossed into the cell to be fought over. No hygiene was issued. Meals of expired slop had to be bartered to obtain hygiene as most of the time “indigent” packs were not distributed. My first day in, in an adjacent cell, a homosexual inmate was strangled to death, and he laid dead for nearly 15 hours before guards performed their duty and checked on him. He was not reported dead by other inmates so they could use his bracelet to steal the food from a dead man at chow time.
The “Good Behavior, Honor-Dorm” shown above… for “advanced” inmates who earned it.
The corruption of this facility is legendary to those of us who lived inside or who worked there as staff and had enough conscious to quit and try to expose what was going on. I am merely giving you the cliff notes to my own dungeon diary. Staff routinely brutalized inmates and many times would receive promotions in rank after killing a prisoner. They would purposely pair weaker inmates, or those they took a disliking to, with more violent and psychotic dominate cell mates, or turn a blind eye to inmate on inmate abuse. And their barbarism towards us was their leisure. There was routine rape, beatings, and torture.
-Showing general over crowding at the Kenton Co. Detention Center-
I was once strapped to a chair, black bagged and beaten for participating in a hunger strike over food that at times would contain live maggots. I will never forget, being slammed to the ground and having the boot of a corrections officer on my throat, looking up at him smiling down at me, and thinking to myself “I’m going to die here, in this place, like this”. I endured, as so many who shared my experience. And sadly, this is commonplace across the United States prison industrial complex. This is just an introduction to a much greater story. My story is just one in a constellation of corruption, institutional crime, and the criminal caste system- a system itself managed by some criminals far worse than those in the cages they manage.