By Alan Bean
Little Walnut Grove, MS is back in the news, and once again its private prisons are part of the story. Recently, juvenile inmates were removed from the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility after charges that inmates had been sexually and physically abused by prison personnel were sustained by a formal inquiry.
Now comes Grady Sims, the warden of the Walnut Grove Transitional Center, and the community’s former mayor. Sims recently pled guilty to transporting a female inmate to a hotel in a nearby town, then threatening her with retribution if she spoke out. Sims will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow.
Is there something sinister in the water in Walnut Grove, or are we dealing with yet another unintended consequences of the privatized prison phenomenon?
Private prisons, by definition, easily flout the limited safeguards and ethical standards enforced by state and federal governments. When responsibility for corrections is shifted to the private sector, an out-0f-sight-out-of-mind mentality takes hold.
Grady Sims is both the embodiment and the victim of this mentality.