Once upon a time, cigarettes were the currency of choice when those behind bars needed to barter. But these days, America's prisoners are trading with ramen.

U.S. Justice Department officials plan to phase out their use of private prisons to house federal inmates, reasoning that the contract facilities offer few benefits for public safety or taxpayers.

In making the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates cited new findings by the Justice Department's inspector general, who concluded earlier this month that a pool of 14 privately contracted prisons reported more incidents of inmate contraband, higher rates of assaults and more uses of force than facilities run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

jodylehigh, pixabay

You are Letcher County, Kentucky. You are rural, mountainous, and in the heart of the central Appalachian coalfields. Your economy is not in good shape. Fox News has called your largest town “the poster child for the war on coal.” You are offered funds to build a new federal prison. It could bring jobs but also brings up troubling moral issues. What do you do?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has named longtime state prisons official Tony Parker as the new commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued "an urgent call to action" Tuesday to overhaul the nation's federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade.

HAZARD, Ky. — Larry Trent was just one of the 154 or more inmates who died in a Kentucky jail during the past 6½ years.

Arrested on July 5, 2013, in his car outside a Hazard doughnut shop, the 54-year-old Trent told police he drank “about four beers and mouthwash” before driving to the store with his 10-year-old grandson.

School's out for the summer. For young people in New York City, if last summer was any guide, that may mean they're less likely to be arrested.

The connection between young people, especially poor boys of color, getting into trouble in school and getting into trouble with the law is known as the "school-to-prison pipeline."

The McCracken County Fiscal Court voted on the first reading of a 2014-2015 budget Monday that totals $32m, including over $6m  for the McCracken County Jail. The jail has a large number of employees and houses more than 450 inmates. 

Kentucky Ends Use of Private Prisons

Jul 1, 2013
Wikimedia commons

  A decision not to renew a contract with a Marion County prison means Kentucky  inmates will no longer be housed in private facilities. The state is ending contracts with two facilities in eastern and central Kentucky. 

Barlow Attorneys File Motion for Shock Probation

Nov 6, 2012
Jonathunder, Wikimedia Commons

Former South Marshall Middle School principal Kent Barlow's Attorneys have filed a motion seeking shock probation in lieu of his 10-year prison sentence.