Prisons are filled with stress and violence; without proper supervision they can revert to primitive places. NPR, in the first of a two-part series on private prisons, says that is what happened at Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi. The nation’s largest juvenile prison, Walnut Grove houses 1,200 boys and young men in a sprawling one-story complex east of Jackson. The State of Mississippi pays Geo Group to run the prison.
Allegations raise the fundamental question of whether profits have distorted the mission of rehabilitating young inmates. Former inmates describe an environment of violence inside the youth prison as so pervasive it became entertainment. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 13 inmates against Geo, the prison administration and state officials.