The battle to allow KIDS of El Paso County Inc. to remain open or be closed resumes today in an Austin court. The El Paso drug rehabilitation program is accused by state investigators of abusing clients and holding them against their will. An Austin judge heard testimony Thursday, then recessed the hearing until today. Hearing resumes to decide center fate. Civic and business leaders who oversee or contribute to KIDS of El Paso County Inc. say their support hasn't been shaken by state efforts to permanently close the controversial rehabilitation program.” It's the only drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that works," said Mayor ***, who has contributed financially to the program. “It's a tough program for tough cases," said El Paso Times Publisher ***, a member of KIDS' voluntary community advisory board. "I don't think there's any doubt that some in the program would otherwise be dead or in jail. It's not for everyone" About 90 young people are enrolled in the program that treats drug and alcohol addiction and behavioral disorders. The program relies on strong peer pressure to help adolescents overcome their addiction. El Paso KIDS supporters include a number of prominent residents who serve as community advisers or members of the board of trustees. The program is on trial for its life in an Austin courtroom, where a hearing before District Judge *** resumes today to determine whether KIDS should remain open. Before the hearing recessed after a day-long session Thursday, Assistant Attorney General *** called witnesses who alleged KIDS abused and held them against their will. The Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse investigated the program and recommended closing it. *** said many people have called or written to ask his help in saving the program. ***, a KIDS trustee who is active in civic organizations, said KIDS is the only program in the country that keeps accurate records of patient progress. For some, it's the last resort, she said. "It's a strict but loving program," *** said. "Given our permissive society, it needs to be strict.” KIDS teaches kids to take responsibility for themselves. Parents work just as hard as the kids in the program do. I've seen kids who complete the program turn out to be strong and high achievers.” ***, an insurance investment consultant, said he believes KIDS is a good program because he knows of teenagers whose lives were dramatically improved by it. KIDS is licensed by the state as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. After the outpatient center closes at night, host families provide supervision and a home atmosphere for clients. *** cited the case of a 17-year-old New Mexico teen who had run away, fallen in with drug users and was supporting herself by prostitution until she went into KIDS. "She said she had no drugs since entering the program and seemed optimistic about putting her life back together," *** said. ***, a real estate developer, and KIDS trustee, said his teenage daughter, a former drug user, probably would be dead if not for KIDS. “I believe the program saved her life," *** said. ***, chairman of the KIDS trustees, said he is single and has no children in the program. "I came on board as a trustee because I wanted to help people. KIDS is doing just that," *** said. Other community leaders who serve as KIDS trustees or advisers include County Court-at-Law Judge ***, advertising executive ***, lawyer *** and businessman ***.
How KIDS controversy grew; this is a chronology of events of KIDS of El Paso
November 1985: KIDS of El Paso County Inc. breaks ground at 6531 Boeing Drive.
February 1986: KIDS opens for business.
March 1987: A KIDS patient alleges he was held against his will and leaves the KIDS center under police escort.
May 1987: The Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse begins its investigation of KIDS.
February 1988 The commission issues a report charging KIDS with physical abuse of clients, neglect, and civil rights violations. It threatens to revoke KIDS' license if alleged violations aren't corrected.
June 3, 1988: Texas Attorney General office investigators recommend revocation of KIDS' operating license.
June 14, 1988: Austin Judge *** orders KIDS closed and its 90 patients disenrolled.
June 17, 1988: A different district judge in Austin modifies the June 14 injunction. KIDS is allowed to remain open pending the outcome of a June 23 hearing.
June 23, 1988: Two former patients and a mother say during a hearing that KIDS abuses patients. District Judge *** recesses the hearing until today.
June 27, 1988: KIDS hearing resumes in Austin.