The Bad Place


Manage episode 292561200 series 44456
By The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and PRX. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The graffiti says it all: “This is a bad place.” Why do states send children to facilities run by Sequel, after dozens of cases of abuse?

The vacant building that once housed the Riverside Academy in Wichita, Kansas, was covered in haunting graffiti: “Burn this place.” “Youth were abused here … systematically.” “This is a bad place.” The facility, run by the for-profit company Sequel Youth & Family Services, promised to help kids with behavioral problems. But state officials had cited the facility dozens of times for problems including excessive force by staff, poor supervision and neglect.

Riverside was just one residential treatment center run by Sequel. In a yearlong investigation, APM Reports found the company profited by taking in some of the most difficult-to-treat children and providing them with care from low-paid, low-skilled employees. The result has been dozens of cases of physical violence, sexual assault and improper restraints. Despite repeated scandals, many states and counties continue to send kids to Sequel for one central reason: They have little choice.

For much of its 20 year history, Sequel was able to avoid public scrutiny. But that changed recently in Oregon, when State Senator Sara Gesler began to investigate the conditions of kids the state placed under the company’s care. What she found led to Oregon demanding change and eventually severing ties with Sequel.

This is an update of an episode that originally aired on 11/21/20.

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