"It's likely that KIDS of El Paso Inc. will close in April, said a local attorney who has made several complaints against the program. The Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse recently found that the KIDS of El Paso staff violated 56 of the commission's rules. The program was told it would lose its license April 12 unless it came into compliance. ***, an attorney who filed complaints against the program last year, said he believes the center will be unable to comply, "They can't continue to run a concentration camp and comply with the commission's rules as well," *** said. ***, director of KIDS of El Paso refused to return repeated calls to discuss the violations reported by the state agency. Last year *** represented an 18-year-old man who told police he was being held in the center against his will. *** filed a complaint, and the commission found it to be valid. The commission also verified a complaint made last May by a 15-year-old client who said he was physically abused. But the teenage boy stayed at the center because a Texas Department of Human Services investigator determined the youth was not in "immediate physical danger," according to a seven-page report released this month by the commission. According to a police report made last May, other young people in the program grabbed the 15-year-old boy, stretched him by the arms and legs, raised him about 3 to 4 feet and then dropped him to the ground. KIDS of El Paso treats young people with drug and alcohol-dependency problems and with eating and emotional disorders. It opened two years ago. *** filed a complaint March 16, 1987, with the Department of Human Services. He alleged that ***, 18, and his 17-year-old sister were being physically and emotionally abused. They also were being held against their will, *** said. *** left the center March 13 after *** obtained a search warrant to enter the building. The Crimes Against Persons Division of the El Paso Police Department investigated the complaint of false imprisonment and presented the case to the County Attorney ***. *** said his office did not prosecute because *** changed his mind about pressing charges and gave different versions of his story. “That is untrue," said ***. "His stories were consistent. After *** filed his complaint, KIDS told him that if he dropped it, they would let his sister out." After his sister was released, *** tried to reinstate his complaint, but *** would not accept it, *** said. "The problem is that there is a lack of political courage to enforce the law," he said.
Some of the commission's other findings were:
- KIDS of El Paso mistreated, abused and neglected clients,
- KIDS of El Paso refused to release adult and emancipated minor clients who were held against their will, In violation of basic civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
- KIDS of El Paso is not certified to accept involuntary commitments, and it is not a mental health facility as defined by law.
- KIDS of El Paso continued to refuse to release adult clients even after being warned by the Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in May 1987.
- Adults who fell the program were subject to harassment by program staff to reenter the program.
- The program knowingly or intentionally allowed staff and clients to restrain, hurt or physically assault other clients.
- Clients were not provided a humane and safe environment or adequate health care. And instead of providing individual treatment plans, the program "treated all clients as having identical problems and needs and left the progress of these clients in the hands of senior and junior staff trainees who had neither the skills nor the expertise to develop, modify and monitor treatment plans.”
KIDS of El Paso under fire
Complaints received by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse against KIDS of El Paso Inc. include:
- MARCH 20, 1987: Complaint alleging physical and emotional abuse of an 18-year old man and a 17-year-old girl.
- APRIL 29, 1987: written complaint by a client’s great-grandmother alleging clients were screamed at, beaten and bounced off walls.
- MAY 11, 1987 Complaint based on a report filed with the El Paso Police department by a 15-year-old who said he was physically abused and tortured.
KIDS OF EL PASO INC. violated 56 rules of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. The commission is threatening to shut down KIDS of El Paso April 12, 1988 unless it complies with regulations.