Inmates vying for coal mining jobs in Appalachia

HARLAN, KY (AP) - In eastern Kentucky, where coal mining is one of the few bright spots in the state's otherwise dismal economy, prisoners at the Harlan County Jail are hoping a job training program will help them become coal miners.

Harlan County Jailer Curtis Stallard persuaded Southeast Community and Technical College to offer the miner training to those who are interested. He even says he will serve as a reference for those who complete it.

So every week, about 20 inmates at the Harlan County Jail sit in a drab, locked room to learn the ins and outs of the mining industry, which employs 17,000 in Kentucky alone.

Their goal, they say, is to get a second chance and earn an honest living.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)