Denny Abbott first encountered the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children at Mt. Meigs as a twenty-one-year-old probation officer for the Montgomery County Family Court. He would become so concerned about conditions for black juvenile offenders there—including hard labor, beatings, and rape—that he took the State of Alabama to court to win reforms. With the help of the U.S. Justice Department, Abbott won a resounding victory that brought change, although three years later he had to sue the state again. In They Had No Voice, Abbott details these battles and how his actions cost him his job and made him a pariah in his hometown, but resulted in better lives for Alabama’s children. Abbott also tells of his later career as the first national director of the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, where he helped focus attention on missing and exploited children and became widely recognized as an expert on children’s issues.
Denny Abbott was willing to put his life, his career, and his own children’s future in jeopardy to speak for vulnerable children who were abused while in state custody. Perhaps his story will inspire others to do the right thing when they witness injustice.
—Morris Dees, founder and chief trial attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center
Children Denny had never met ... were given a chance at a safer life because of one man’s commitment and courage.
—John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted and founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children