Turn-about Ranch

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Turnabout Ranch is a Behavior Modification Facility for teenagers placed near Escalante [1], Utah. The physical location of the facility is where the Posey Lake Road turns into Pine Creek Road some miles north of the city.

"Roundy" is some miles north of the main facility. If you are a friend of one of the detained teenagers, remember to remain on the public road in order to avoid arrest for trespassing [2].

It is now a part of Aspen Education Group. It can detain 51 teenagers and was founded in 1989.

It calls itself a short-term, hard-hitting, high impact program for adolescent 'troubled teenagers' that will remold and turn around the lives of the detainees [3]. The concept is that the detainees function as cheap labor in order to keep the ranch running and, by that, learn not to take their family and life back home for granted.

The program states that the normal stay is about 90 days. However, when it was featured in the TV-show "Brat Camp", one of the participants was detained there for about 120 days.

Some degree of education is available there, and as of 2004 it was seeking accreditation from Northwest Association of Accredited Schools and the state of Utah.

Program description

The program has four levels:

Level one is called "Roundy". It takes between 3-7 days. The detainees are forced to sit or stand within a stone-circle of about 2x2 meters all day long. Lying down is forbidden. It is defined to be a stressful position, which would be regarded as a war crime if it was done against a POW. However, the detainees do not have the same protection against mistreatment and the facility is under supervision from the Utah State Office of Education. When they arrive, they are given a binder in where they are expected to write about their time and development during the stay.

The meals consist of: Breakfast (oatmeal, cooked over their personal camp fire in an old coffee can), lunch ("trail mix," which is shredded coconut, Cheerios, and raisins), and dinner (which can vary from beans & lentils to Ramen noodles, depending on availability and behavior). During the night they sleep on a wooden bed without a mattress inside a cabin. (A mattress can be earned during level two.)
Level two still takes place around "Roundy". The detainees are allowed to work and are watched around the clock. They have a lot of chores and earn privileges like a mattress and better food. They attend group therapy where they discuss their behavior.
Level three takes place at the barn. Now the detainees can watch selected movies, and earn the right to a lot of different foods. They are still under supervision but not as strict as during the previous levels. They are given a horse they should care for but they will also work with other kinds of animals. They are forced to attend mandatory services at the Baptist church in Escalante regardless of their personal beliefs.

The detainees will receive a visit from their parents during this level at a secret pre-set date, where they will be confronted with the reason for their parents to send them there.
During Level four they will continue to work with their new induced self-image until the point where the therapist decides that their old image does not exist. Some days or a week before the graduation, it is time for the solo, which consists of spending days alone in a remote isolated unheated one-room cabin where they are ordered to finish their binder. The graduation takes place at a secret date, where they will be go to a large stone circle in order to receive a medicine pouch and some words of wisdom. Then they will be welcomed back into their old family.

Outcome

Even though the program consist of exercises designed to bring the family back together and remove some of the bitterness in the detainees caused by being banished from their home, the outcome is often jeopardied by actions from the parents, who have not been through a corresponding program [4].

Criticism

Their mission statement uses the term "Christian". They are recommended to change that term in order to avoid to offend detainees with other kind of beliefs [5]. Former detainees claim that other kind of religions are not tolerated or accepted [6].

Due to strict laws of Utah, the detainees must go without privileges that they enjoy at home like: Tobacco, alcohol and sex, which is considered especially harsh or even inhuman for foreign detainees but not for US-born detainees due to their strict laws.

In the news

The facility was featured in the TV-show "Brat Camp", where 6 young teenagers from England was sent there [7] [8] [9]. SPOILER: The show had mixed results on the British participants. One had to be sent back after a while and another did not even get to the airport in Utah, before she was returned by her parents.

It was also used in a later version of the TV-show, when a participant punched a staff member at Aspen Achievement Academy. The claimed violent participant was transferred to the ranch where she broke down in only four weeks and returned to England as a shadow of her former self [10].

In November 1, 2006 a campaign was launched by the relatives and friends of Chandra Robb, which were sent to the facility by a Teen escort company ordered by her mother. The girl was released shortly before Christmas 2006 [11] [12].

Late 2006 the facility was used in connection with the German version of the TV-show Brat camp called Teenager außer Kontrolle in the local language [13]. However, the show brought its own crew and a lot of the original behavior modification program was altered, so the treatment was displayed more humane according to European Standards.

References

External Links

Info pages

Survivor groups

Message boards