This testimony was made on the message boarding belonging to the human rights organization HEAL-online. All rights goes to the original author, who have chosen to be anonymous
I had the 'pleasure' of being sent to this place when I was around 11 or 12,in 1992 or '93. My stay there was cut short, thank God, because my stepfather, a Navy man, was being transferred out of state.
First of all we'll start with the glamorous brochures and outlandish claims of lavish accommodations afforded the 'students' at their 'school'. I was,at the time, in an acute care mental facility for children and adolescents in Rhode Island, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, when discussions for my future care were being held by all concerned.
Somehow,Devereux Glenholme was included. With glossy brochures featuring pictures of go-kart tracks (that I'd never get to use) and ice cream shops, they lured me in. Nothing but a shameless sales pitch.
Well,the first week I was there I was on the phone to my mother,desperately begging for her to come get me out of there. It all started with the 'discipline' regime which involved, as another poster had said, having to stand behind your chair at mealtimes and having to march around single file, not allowed to speak or anything- but that really wasn't too bad compared to what had me on the phone.
One morning,I was accosted by two older, bigger (I was 11 or 12) 15-16 year old boys who, wearing blankets, gave me a 'blanket party' while I was still in bed. Kids will be kids,right? But this happened in the full view of a staff member who watched the entire thing happen,without intervening - this staff member being a full grown man - he watched as a boy older and bigger than me climbed onto the top bunk with me and punched me repeatedly in the face and head. This man said he wouldn't intervene because it could expose him to liability. What a coward. More fun at Devereux Glenholme included finding my suitcase with my belongings rifled through and vandalized in their basement of one of their oh-so-lovely 'cottages'.
Apparently, Glenholme places more emphasis on collecting its hundred + thousand a year 'tuition' than on protecting the wellbeing or the property of the 'students' who they collect it from. Also there were the little tile rooms - probably the most egregious of offenses to humanity and sanity that Devereux Glenholme had to offer in my stay with them. They had several of these rooms - not included in the information in what can only be described as their sales brochures,to be sure - all across their campus, about the size of a small bathroom. These rooms were covered from floor to ceiling with tile,they were dimly lit and featured a door with no handle on the inside and a drain in the center of the room. Oftentimes,I was placed in one of these rooms and there was excrement left in them from children who had been held in them before.
Just as the poster above mentioned - they didn't let you out of there for hours for anything; bathroom,water,food,etc. Yes - these criminals denied children access to basic human needs. And an interesting note was that at the time,or so I was told, it was illegal in the state of Connecticut to lock a child in a room using an actual deadbolt or other fastening device, so they used to have the older kids act as 'holders', or in other words,they would throw a kid in one of these holes, and have another child hold the door shut so that you could not get out.
Speculatively, one can imagine what the 'holder' could get away with regarding tormenting the child he was keeping in the room when he was unsupervised- perhaps even while he was supervised,given the manner in which staff dealt with even physical assaults between the children as I have described above.
As to the 'amenities' at Devereux Glenholme - I was there maybe 9 months. Not once was I allowed to use the go-karts,the track seemed to never get used either. The pool - interestingly,if you look at their website, its the same one they had there back when I was incarcerated there in the early 90s, and looks like it was built in the 70s - I got to use once. For maybe 15 minutes. I don't recall the horses there, but I'll tell you, just like all the other 'amenities' at Glenholme, those horses are just there to entice people to pay them to take their kids.
Most of the time we were either in what they call 'classrooms',or the 'cottages', or we were being forced to participate in some form of what they called 'leisure activities', which was just more excersize in 'discipline', as 'leisure' meant doing things like practicing square dancing or other horribly dull and droll (square dancing, for kids? seriously?) 'activities' that if you didn't participate in,and with a 'good attitude'- see above about the little tile rooms.
As for 'therapy' sessions - I remember one 'session' in particular that was being led by a so-called 'councilor', the exercise was to compose a 'group rap'. So we all had to sit around and make rap lyrics. How therapeutic. Devereux Glenholme, as I remember it,was a nightmare. There is nothing a child can do, nothing so 'wrong' with a child,that should ever prompt a parent to consider sending them to this private, run for-profit juvenile prison that masquerades itself as an amenities rich 'care facility'.
I'd like to, at this time, remain anonymous unless and until a class action suit or other suitable remedy is ever pursued, but feel free to post my story on your website. Your doing a good thing exposing these adolescent gulags to the world - as much as they like to claim and aggrandize their success stories about their 'students' going on to become doctors and such,for every one of those kids - there's probably 20 kids that were terribly ruined by them who's stories they don't post on their slick web sites.
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