Unhappy Campers

Critics of a private prison firm that ran two juvenile boot camps in Dallas wonder where the love is at these "tough love academies"

There, he acted out again. "I'm not stupid. I knew what the others had done. I tore out the fixture of the lightbulb and reached down and grabbed a piece of the broken glass. No one would come in then, because it had a sharp edge and they were afraid I was going to stab them with it," Brad says.

In court, his juvenile defense lawyer argued that because of Brad's neglect at the CSC facility he should be sent home. The juvenile system had failed him, attorney Laura Peterson told the prosecutors. "Grandma put him in the system to get help and the entire time he got, what, two hours of counseling?"

Despite recommendations from a juvenile department psychologist and probation officer that the boy be sent to a highly structured program at TYC, the prosecutors agreed to allow Brad to return home. He was ordered to live with his grandmother and report weekly to a juvenile probation officer until his 18th birthday.

The CSC-managed facility in Southern Dallas no longer houses emotionally disturbed juveniles. Dallas County ended the program after realizing it wasn't working.
Mark Graham
The CSC-managed facility in Southern Dallas no longer houses emotionally disturbed juveniles. Dallas County ended the program after realizing it wasn't working.

Brad had spent almost a year in the juvenile system--at a taxpayer cost of roughly $25,000, about 60 percent of which went to CSC--yet none of it had prevented him from growing up to be a criminal.

This past June, Brad did not contest the charges that he had been carrying an unlawful homemade club. As a result, he was sentenced to six months of community supervision--as an adult. He had turned 18 eight months earlier.

He didn't get into any more trouble over the summer, his grandmother says, but he has gone back to his father, and she hasn't heard from him for a few weeks. Asked to summarize the experience at CSC, she says without missing a beat, "It made him worse."

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