The vast majority of people living outside prison walls in rural Kentucky and Virginia are white. Not so for the people living inside of prison walls. For some time, Appalshop had one hip-hop show, once a week, for one hour. Well, it turns out that area in Eastern Kentucky and Western Virginia has nine different prisons located out there in the mountains. Two are supermax prisons, which means the people who live there are kept in solitary confinement almost all the time. Some of the prisons in the area are private, and have contracts with states all over the place to keep people there, thousands of miles from home in the middle of the mountains. Even from within Virginia or Kentucky, most of the people in captivity in that area are from urban places and many are African-American men. This one hip-hop show, called “Holla to the Hood,” was a source of comfort to people who loved hip-hop and were isolated from their home communities. The show’s creators began to receive letters from many of the men in the private prisons, documenting the extreme abuse and isolation. Eventually, in response to this letter-writing, a campaign grew to draw attention to the abusive practices at the supermax facilities, and to advocate for people being detained far from home to be returned to their home communities.
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    I’m from an area of Southwest Virginia where they have stuck multiple prisons. (Where are their mostly urban inmates...
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