North Carolina has sixty-six prisons, housing more than 37,000 inmates. Morganton’s Western Youth Institution is meant for the youngest of them; It houses about 430 inmates for sentences ranging from ninety days to life in prison.
It also has a flourishing music program, a rarity in the state’s prison system. It was started by Millicent Gordon thirty years ago. Now in her eighties, the Juilliard-trained pianist has found her meaning behind bars.
Only one person at Western Youth Institution has a reserved parking space, and it’s not the warden.