America’s Real Brat Camps 9:00, 2007 (Ref: N07538)


They are kidnapped in the middle of the night: snatched from their beds, handcuffed and taken hundreds or even thousands of miles to remote and brutal prison camps – sometimes in a foreign country. Here they are routinely subjected to torture, sexual abuse and deprived of food and education. They are frequently held in solitary confinement for weeks on end. Many have been locked up and made to sleep in outside dog cages. Some have died. Yet these are not terror suspects. They are young and vulnerable teenagers, usually American, and typically aged 12-15. They have not been charged with – much less convicted of – any crime. The companies which incarcerate and abuse these children claim to be “turning round” the lives of troubled teenagers – yet the only official study (by the US government) found that for all their violence and pressure, their programmes made absolutely no lasting difference to the behaviour or problems of difficult teenagers. Despite this – and despite more than 24 documented deaths in their facilities – the “brat camp” industry operates almost completely beyond the reach of the law. There are on average 14,000 teenagers locked up in camps at any one time – including a handful of British and European or Scandinavian children. Most remain “in the programme” for an average of 18 months – at a cost of around $3,000 a month. Yet there is no US government regulation or oversight of what happens to these vulnerable teenagers. We went to the USA to investigate these “brat camps” and the people who run them, the teenagers who went to them and the parents who arranged for their children to be sent to them.