Monday, January 7, 2008

Hermitage Hall in More Hot Water

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2008 at 1:34 PM

Power to the People, a Nashville-based black human rights organization, today asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch a criminal investigation of Nashville's Hermitage Hall, a treatment facility for juvenile male sex offenders. The organization filed the complaint Monday, citing this Scene story that detailed life at Hermitage Hall, which one current employee dubbed a “nightmare” for boys ages 9 to 17 who live there. In December, current and former employees told the Scene that some of the facility's young residents were forced to sleep on mattresses on the building's floors, locked in a small room for weeks on end as punishment and put in “chemical straitjackets” thanks to heavy sedation. Despite these claims, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (DMHDD) has continued to license Hermitage Hall. In the complaint, Power to the People claims that Hermitage residents are subjected to “horrid” conditions and “cruel mistreatment.” The organization has asked the DOJ to suspend or end all federal funding to DMHDD and to sue Universal Health Care, the King of Prussia, Penn., company that owns the facility, for “operating an unsafe, abusive and criminal operation” that violates the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. This is the second time in as many months that Universal Health Care has found itself in hot water. Just last month, the family of a 17-year-old boy who died at Clarksville's Chad Youth Enhancement Center after two staffers held him in a physical restraint, sued Chad and its parent company, Universal Health Care.

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