Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek

Fixer-Upper: Former Youth Detention Center (Needs TLC)

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    Hoping prisons would bring jobs and prosperity, some rural counties issued bonds to help developers finance new construction. Eight such projects around the country are in default, and others are in distress. In Greensboro, Ala., the roof of an abandoned youth prison began leaking two years ago, and there's no money for repairs, says William Ryan, a retired judge who formed the nonprofit that owns it. He has tried in vain to find a buyer. Above, the front of the West Alabama Youth Services Facility. Administrators thought the building would be used for other purposes when it ceased to operate as a youth detention center. It was not.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    One of two main housing units. The facility could hold about 30 boys at a time.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Mold, water, and ceiling tiles on the floor of the reception area. The man standing in the corner is Judge Ryan, who helped oversee the building of the facility.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Reception area, with a Christian flag by the front door.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    A wall at the facility.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Words scratched on the mirror in a cell. The facility was designed to hold boys for up to 14 days at a time.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Recreation yard in the rear of the facility.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    A moldy clipboard on a teacher's desk in a classroom. The teacher helped the students continue their schoolwork while at the facility.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Mold on the ceiling in one housing unit.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    The main hallway leading to the facility's two housing units. A leaking roof is responsible for the water damage to the floor.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Main Street in Greensboro, a town of about 2,500 in western Alabama.

    Photograph by Rob Culpepper for Bloomberg Businessweek