A Prison Sits Empty, A Nonprofit Moves In

As a social worker accustomed to prodding the minds of adjudicated youth in the juvenile justice system, Ashoka Fellow Noran Sanford has long been an inquisitive kind of guy. So when he discovered that six prisons had closed within a 50-mile radius of his home in rural Laurinburg, N.C., including one in the nearby town of Wagram, he began asking questions. Lots of them. “It was in that moment that I began putting together the idea that somebody should do something with these large sites,” Sanford says.