In 2010, Michael McIntosh’s son was incarcerated at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in the small town of Walnut Grove, Mississippi. One Sunday, Michael McIntosh went to visit his son and was turned away because, he was told, prison officials “did not know” where his son was. He spent the next six weeks searching for his son, only to find him in the hospital with severe injuries. And Michael McIntosh’s son wasn’t the only one who had been hurt at the facility.
Jody Owens, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, launched an investigation and found that Walnut Grove was such a violent prison that one Federal Judge called it “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.” Today, we have the story of an especially troubled youth prison, the for-profit corporation, Cornell Companies, that managed it, and the small town that relied on it.