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Lunch & Learn: Changing Faces, Common Walls

This very topical presentation was rescheduled due to bad weather. Kyle Ellison will guide us through a photographic look at Kentucky’s prison system. Mr. Ellison is uniquely positioned to search for and organize many rarely seen vintage images that help us understand the history of incarceration in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Lunch and Learn is a free to the public program, however, registration is requested. Email Delesha Thomas at dthomas@carnegiecenter.org or call 812-944-7336.

In 1800, Kentucky opened the first state prison west of the Appalachian Mountains. As one of the oldest state prisons, its subsequent history makes this an instructive case study for those interested in the topic of incarceration. For example, did you know that Kentucky’s early prison system was subject to overcrowding and that prisoners were routinely “leased” for work outside the walls of the prison? Attendees of our first Lunch & Learn presentation of the year will benefit from our speaker’s unique position to put this story together.

Kyle Ellison worked for the KY Department of Corrections from 1972 to 1988. From 1981 to 1988 he was a personnel-training instructor and was in contact with all the state’s prisons and staff. One of his assignments was to develop a one-hour block of instruction on the history of the state prison system.  He collected photographs, found dissertations, and asked prison staff for information and contacts.  After raising funds, the Kentucky Historical Society made a “permanent” photographic exhibit in Frankfort, then travelled throughout the state. Ellison has the only remaining copy of this exhibit and these photographs and others will be featured in this presentation. Ellison also wrote two of three articles about the origins of Kentucky’s prison system that were published in The Kentucky Encyclopedia by the University of Kentucky Press in 1992.