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Allegations of Abuse Have Advocates Calling for an End to Youth Prison Contract

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 May 2011 04:27pm | comments

Advocates are demanding changes for youth incarcerated at Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports on efforts to end what some are calling widespread abuse in the facility.

Dressed in orange T shirts family and friends of those incarcerated at Walnut Grove delivered more than 15 hundred petitions to the offices of Governor Haley Barbour and Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps yesterday.
A 21 year old man who only wants to be named as Anthony says he saw and experienced mistreatment of inmates while he was at Walnut Grove.

"I signed the petition because I witnessed inmates getting their cells popped by correctional officers who were there to protect the inmates only to have other inmates come into their cells and take their belongings. I signed the petition because I too also was stabbed like many other inmates at Walnut Grove......"

And there are other stories like this. Michael McIntosh's son was held at Walnut Grove. He's calling for the state to end its contract with GEO Group Inc...the company operating the facility.

"No one is talking about it. It's pretty much hush hush, sweep it up under the rug and these are the ones we've got in charge of them. So we felt that it they could just cancel the contract then if you have to get somebody else in there that can run the prison then that's fine, but don't let GEO keep making a profit off of killing our kids."

McIntosh says his son now has brain damage from the beating he received at the hands of the guards.
A lawsuit filed against the prison claims the guards sold drugs to the youth, engaged in sexual relationships with them, beat inmates while handcuffed, and watched as some were brutally attacked. Earlier this year Reverend Justin Chaney, former chaplain at Walnut Grove said the inmates aren't as innocent as some would like them to seem.

"Walnut Grove is not a daycare. I'm afraid that's what a lot of people kind of think it might be. It's just a little detention center...it's maximum security. So yeah, you do have those that can be rough."

Governor Barbour and Commissioner Epps both declined comment due to pending litigation. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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