Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

GAO Reveals Bootcamp Nightmare

Have a troubled teen? You might want to think twice about sending them to boot camp.

WASHINGTON — The first federal inquiry into boot camps and wilderness programs for troubled teens cataloged 1,619 incidents of abuse in 33 states in 2005, a congressional investigation out today reveals.

The study, by the Government Accountability Office, also looked at a sample of 10 deaths since 1990 and found untrained staff, inadequate food or reckless operations were factors. In half of those cases, the teens died of dehydration or heat exhaustion, the GAO says.

There are no federal rules governing residential facilities for children, and some states do not license such programs.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at a hearing of the House Committee on Education and Labor, whose chairman, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., requested the investigation.

"This nightmare has remained an open secret for years," Miller said in a statement. "Congress must act, and it must act swiftly." He has sponsored a bill designed to encourage states to enact regulations.

Investigators counted "thousands" of abuse allegations against the facilities using lawsuits and websites. But there is no central clearinghouse. States submit incidents to the federal database on a voluntary basis.

Five of the 10 programs where teenagers died under questionable circumstances are operating — sometimes under a new name or in a different location.

The cases highlighted in the GAO report did not include names, but some were identifiable through news reports:

•Roberto Reyes, 15, died of complications from a spider bite in November 2004 at Thayer Learning Center in Missouri, which describes itself as "a military based, Christian boarding school." A state investigation concluded that the staff "did not provide adequate treatment," the GAO said, but the state does not license such programs, and no criminal charges have been filed.

The staff tied a 20-pound sandbag around his neck when he was too sick to exercise, the GAO said. The family settled a civil lawsuit against Thayer for about $1 million. The facility's owners denied wrongdoing. Messages left at the school and with its lawyer were not returned.

•At the American Buffalo Soldiers boot camp in Arizona where Anthony Haynes, 14, died in 2001, children were fed an apple for breakfast, a carrot for lunch and a bowl of beans for dinner, the GAO said.

Haynes became dehydrated in 113-degree heat and vomited up dirt, according to witnesses. The program closed, and the director, Charles Long, was sentenced in 2005 to six years in prison for manslaughter.

Tim Briceland-Betts of the Child Welfare League of America says abuses "typically

occur in places that are not regulated. I'm glad to hear that they are working on this."
USA Today


Anonymous said...

Lookout mountain locally has been a subject of pain and death due to the lack of supervision by the state.
The state department of corrections and governor only seeks to line their political pockets and keep the prison industry as large as possible

Anonymous said...

The Division of Youth Corrections in Colorado needs to be investigated along with all these places they contract to put the teens through programs. Some of the programs are really bad. Neglect and abuse goes on and as a parent if you try and do anything about it they retaliate on paper. These people need to be exposed. I believe if the true numbers came out about the sucess/failure rate many of these programs would be closed. I believe that its keeping the kids in the system because it generates more money. The Governors office won't even talk to you about the Division of Youth Corrections. They say they don't get involved. There is no one outside the Division that monitors these programs. They cover things up and get away with it. On the web page of the Division of Youth Corrections in Colorado it says "Accountability" is the main part of the mission. These people are the least accountable people I've ever encountered.

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