11 episodes

In 1968, police arrested five Black girls dressed in oversized military fatigues in Montgomery. The girls were runaways, escaping from a state-run reform school called the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama. The girls were determined to tell someone about the abuse they’d suffered there: physical and sexual violence, unlivable facilities, and grueling labor in the fields surrounding the school. It was, as several former students called it, a slave camp.

UNREFORMED is the story of how this reform school derailed the lives of thousands of Black children in Alabama for decades and what happened after those five girls found someone willing to blow the whistle. Host Josie Duffy Rice investigates the history of the school at the tail end of the Civil Rights movement in Alabama and speaks to former students who are still haunted by their experience but had the will to survive.

Unreformed: the Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children iHeartPodcasts

    • History
    • 4.8 • 1.1K Ratings

In 1968, police arrested five Black girls dressed in oversized military fatigues in Montgomery. The girls were runaways, escaping from a state-run reform school called the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama. The girls were determined to tell someone about the abuse they’d suffered there: physical and sexual violence, unlivable facilities, and grueling labor in the fields surrounding the school. It was, as several former students called it, a slave camp.

UNREFORMED is the story of how this reform school derailed the lives of thousands of Black children in Alabama for decades and what happened after those five girls found someone willing to blow the whistle. Host Josie Duffy Rice investigates the history of the school at the tail end of the Civil Rights movement in Alabama and speaks to former students who are still haunted by their experience but had the will to survive.

    UNREFORMED Nominated for Signal Listener's Choice Awards - Vote now!

    UNREFORMED Nominated for Signal Listener's Choice Awards - Vote now!

    Unreformed has been nominated for two Signal Listener's Choice Award. Voting is open through October 5, 2023, you can vote for the show under "Best Host" and "History" in the Limited Series and Specials category. Link to vote is here. 
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 1 min
    Episode 8: Searching for Justice

    Episode 8: Searching for Justice

    In the final episode, we look at where Lonnie, Mary, Johnny, Jennie, Johnny Mack, and Denny are fifty years after leaving Mt. Meigs. We also look at how juvenile justice in America has evolved and how other juvenile reform schools that mistreated their students have atoned for their wrongs. And lastly, we get a glimpse into the current state of Mt. Meigs. Has it changed? Or is it the same place it was more than fifty years ago?

    If you or someone you know attended Mt. Meigs and would like to connect with us, please email mtmeigspodcast@gmail.com. 
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 44 min
    Unreformed presents "5-4: Tanner v. United States."

    Unreformed presents "5-4: Tanner v. United States."

    Hey folks, Josie here! We wanted to share a show that we think you might like. It's called 5-4, and it's about how much the Supreme Court sucks. 5-4 is all about how the Supreme Court DOESN'T provide justice, and we think that will resonate with Unreformed listeners. 

    If you like it, you can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

    About 5-4: A podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks. It’s a progressive and occasionally profane take on the ideological battles at the heart of the Court’s most important landmark cases and an irreverent tour of all the ways in which the law is shaped by politics. 

    Listen each week as hosts Peter, Michael, and Rhiannon dismantle the Justices’ legal reasoning on hot-button issues like affirmative action, gun rights, and campaign finance, and use dark humor to reveal the high court’s biases. 
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 48 min
    Episode 7: The Aftermath

    Episode 7: The Aftermath

    Many people who were incarcerated at Mt. Meigs as children ended up spending their entire lives tethered to the criminal legal system. Many were sentenced to life in prison. Many others were sentenced to death. This episode traces the lives of two of those people: Jesse James Andrews and Johnny Mack Young. 

    If you or someone you know attended Mt. Meigs and would like to connect with us, please email mtmeigspodcast@gmail.com. 
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 35 min
    Episode 6: Scallawags and Carpetbaggers

    Episode 6: Scallawags and Carpetbaggers

    Denny Abbott enlists the help of lawyer Ira Dement to sue the state of Alabama. What ensues is a years-long battle, multiple lawsuits, personal turmoil, but also...a glimmer of hope for the kids at Mt. Meigs. 

    Special thanks to Denny Abbott and Douglas Kalajian for the use of their book, They Had No Voice: My Fight for Alabama's Forgotten Children.

    If you or someone you know attended Mt. Meigs and would like to connect with us, please email mtmeigspodcast@gmail.com.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 41 min
    Episode 5: When Mary Met Denny

    Episode 5: When Mary Met Denny

    Mary Stephens and four other girls escape Mt. Meigs and are determined to tell someone about what's happened to them. Probation officer Denny Abbott must make a decision. 

    If you or someone you know attended Mt. Meigs and would like to connect with us, please email mtmeigspodcast@gmail.com. 
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 25 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.1K Ratings

1.1K Ratings

Jeri7979 ,

Heartbreaking but essential

I am so glad I came across this podcast, I have gained much more insight into our history as well as understand how indeed history does shape our present. I think that Mt Meigs should not even exist with its dark and horrid history. Keep up the good work Josie! Thank you.

Why do they do this ,

Great story WAY TO MANY ADD

Had to quit listening. As soon as the story gets going there is like 15 min of ads. And then it just keeps repeating. Unbearable. Why are podcast getting worse than Cable TV?

hailey.axmk ,

Emotional

I had no idea about these kinds of “institutions” for children going into this podcast and I’m glad I stayed and learned about these beautiful people who endured so much evil and injustice. Josie did such a great job with sharing these people’s stories with us and articulating the brokenness of our “justice” system. The only issue I had was with the ads, which I know is most likely the distributors fault but I would have much rather preferred they be at the beginning and end instead of strewn throughout the episodes. It really did a disservice to the stories being told, especially when they were so emotional and deep. But the podcast was excellent regardless.

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