MARION COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - For the first time in nearly 30 years, Kentucky may soon no longer have any state inmates in private prisons.
This week the state corrections department announced it was ending its contract with the Marion Adjustment Center, which is the last private prison to house state inmates in Kentucky.
The state says the move will save millions, but Marion County leaders say it will devastate their community.
"We didn't see this coming, and I guess that's been the biggest shock," said Marion County Judge-Executive John G. Mattingly.
The nearly 30-year-old private prison, the only private prison in Kentucky to house Kentucky inmates, may soon close its doors. This week the Kentucky Department of Corrections announced that they aren't renewing their contract with MAC.
That decision has now been put on hold for 30 days. Many in Marion County hope the extra month will allow the state to reconsider.
"The hope is those beds might be able to be replaced, replenished, restored, and salvage the jobs that would in fact totally be gone," said Judge-Executive Mattingly. "160 families and their livelihoods would be a terrible loss and a terrible blow to this county."
There are nearly 800 inmates in MAC, but once the state contract expires, they have 120 days to move all of them from the jail. One big reason for not renewing the contract is saving money holding them in other facilities and county jails. But for those connected to the center, they say what's offered to these inmates at MAC should be considered in the decision.
"We're not sure really what led to the abrupt decision the other day, but we're certainly hopeful that Kentucky officials will reconsider that decision given all the wonderful programs and progress we've made for the inmates," said Steve Owen, spokesperson for the prison.
Prison officials say those programs benefit tax payers and especially people in Marion County with jobs on the line in its closure.
County and prison officials hope to get at least a six-month extension.