The Government Accountability Office came out with a followup report to its study of juvenile boot camps and wilderness programs that Grits discussed last fall. See the new report here (pdf). After analyzing these programs in the big picture, GAO followed up at the request of a Congressional committee by analyzing eight individual abuse cases from boot camps and wilderness around the country. GAO intends to come out with a comprehensive study soon of juvenile residential programs.
In addition to allegations of physical abuse, said GAO, some such programs may be committing tax fraud or violating non-profit rules. According to the report (p. 4):
Posing as fictitious parents with fictitious troubled teenagers, we also found examples of deceptive marketing and questionable practices in the private residential program industry. Deceptive marketing included potential fraud, false statements, and misleading representations related to a range of issues including tax deductions, education, and admissions policies.Some of the fraud claims hit a little close to home. MSNBC reports that a GAO rep testified before Congress that:
that a Texas wilderness program representative misled investigators about whether a trade group inspected the facility and whether the program was covered by health insurance.In another case described to Congress, said MSNBC, "a 12-year-old boy died of suffocation at a Texas facility after being restrained and forced to lie on the floor face down."
Investigator Greg Kutz told lawmakers last fall that there were thousands of allegations of abuse in teen residential programs, including boot camps, wilderness camps and therapeutic boarding schools. When asked about insurance, the program representative "emphasized that we should not call ahead of time to seek pre-approval, because then we would be 'up the creek,'" Kutz said. In fact, experts told investigators that insurers actually could require pre-approval before mental health services are provided.
I haven't read the report yet, but as Texas considers shifting to regional juvenile justice systems that rely on residential placement, this may be an issue to watch.
MORE from the Dallas News.