Welcome to my review of my first time entering a world ignored and unknown to many. The Kentucky State Reformatory
They call the Kentucky State Reformatory the “Middle finger of justice.” This is so because one of the first building built is very tall and sticks out above the rest of the prison. As you enter you pass through the guard shake between the parking lot and a pathway that takes you to the entrance of the prison. You walk up about 20 steps before walking through the first key locked door and a guard waiting to let people in and out; this includes visitors, employees, inmates and volunteers. You provide that guard with your driver’s license and he provides you with a badge. You sign in on paper and log the badge into a computer. After you are signed in you walk through another key locked door to the area where they check your person and your belongs. There is a scanner you see at the airport when you go to put your belonging through. Depending on the sex of guard on duty you may or may not get hand body searched or scanned by hand yet if need; it is accommodated... After you are cleared you pass through 2 power locked gates, get keys and a radio and walk through the building to the yard. I held my classes in the chapel which is about a 10-minute walk from the last locked gate to the chapel. As you can imagine there are inmates roaming freely in the yard no matter what the weather. As you walk to the chapel you pass baseball fields, a fenced in seating area, the chow hall and I think the medication pass building. There are various inmate housing facilities as well but they are off in the distance. I have only been inside one. The reformatory is a medical prison so there is a medical and mental health unit that serves various medical and mental conditions. You pass those building as well. As you pass building from the front part of the yard you can see very thin windows that open cells to the outside. The dorms were all built at separate times so there are a few different window types. Walking the yard at first was very intimidating but I walked it with a very close friend in the beginning. Although it was intimidating, I was not afraid. I kept my head up, watched the men watch me and walked at the same pace as my colleague. The walk isn’t that bed and after a while you get used to the surrounds which is something you are told not to do as it makes you complacent to those arounds you but you can’t help it from happening as times goes by.
The chapel is wheel chair assessable so you walk up a ramp. When you enter, you enter the office area where there is a volunteer inmate manning a desk and talking to other inmates just coming in to chat. There are two offices where there is a Chaplin and an assist Chaplin and the chapel off to the left. As you can imagine the chapel is just like any other chapel you enter. There is a pulpit, chairs, areas for music and seating for the congregation. This chapel serves all religions even some you may find surprising like the Nordic religion that worships Oden, the god from Thor. They support all forms of Christianity, pagan religions like Wicca. They support Judaism, Islam, the Mormonism, the Sevan Day Adventist, and Jehovah Witnesses and so on. The Chaplin has to be opened minded and cannot discriminate against request for material or other means of worship as long as it is safe and promoted respectfully. The Chaplin’s duties include funeral planning, contacting family, supplying cards, worships and worship group organizations that are run by inmates, schedules of chapel time, providing material requested within reason and individual support when needed and appropriate. I love the chapel. It felt neutral and safe.