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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Mom Calls Rehab Place a Private Prison

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - A mother claims in court that her teenage daughter was taken from Texas by a human trafficker and locked up at a secret "private prison" in Utah, where she was made to perform "mindless tasks of blind obedience."

Miriam Blank sued Bain Capital, Aspen Education Group, Aspen Institute of Behavioral Assessment, the Harris County Office of Human Resources and Risk Management, Guardians of Hope and two people, in Federal Court.

Blank claims her 16-year-old daughter, H.N., was removed from the Lone Star State by lead defendant Jack Nuszen, N.H.'s father, after he tried to portray her as an unfit mother to their five children.

Blank claims the move was intended to thwart her visitation rights and "to spite and torment" her.

"Jack Nuszen has used the biased Harris County Family Court system to case Miriam Blank as an unfit mother to their five children," the lawsuit states. "Although he is guilty of physically abusing N.H., he has, by falsely obtained court orders and engaging a human trafficking service, removed H.N. from her school, where she was an outstanding student and well-adjusted young woman, and against her will and without her consent, forced her relocation from Texas to Utah, where she is confined by the defendant Aspen against her will and without her consent in one or the other of its locked down compounds. There, she is locked up for an indefinite time, having done nothing wrong or truant solely to deprive her of her freedom and cause extreme anxiety to Miriam Blank, her mother, as to her whereabouts and welfare."

Blanks says her daughter is being held an undisclosed and possibly remote area, where successful escapes are rare.

"H.N. had no hearing as to why she was taken away and locked up. There was no forum for complaint, for explanation, for appeal, or protest against the placement, either before, during, or after it occurred. The only option was to run away, but these private prisons are often located in remote areas and are closely guarded in any event. Successful runs are rare, and most often police retrieve the escapee," the 21-page complaint states.

"Once confined, no contact with the outside world is allowed, except with the persons transferring custody to the prison. Contact with family members or friends is not allowed, and even contact with the family member or agency that transferred full and complete custody to the prison is monitored, and the inmate knows that any disparaging remark or complaint about the prison will be punished by a loss of all privileges earned, meaning having to start at the bottom all over again to rise from level to level by successfully completing mindless tasks of blind obedience."

"The hapless minors will soon learn that they can be locked up for their entire

minority as long as there is money to pay for it. The custody transfer agreements allow the private prisons to do anything they want to the minors and can enforce compliance with their demands by punishment, sometimes extremely harsh, medication at the handlers' discretion, forced disclosure of private deeds or thoughts, public confession of past deeds or thoughts, etc.

"What the private prisons do to the minor children whom they have incarcerated, if done by their parents or custodians on the outside, would be swiftly prosecuted as child abuse and false imprisonment."

Blank claims defendant Guardians of Hope - the alleged human trafficker - and operator and defendant Norma Willcockson removed N.H. from school and transported her across state lines.

She claims that once inside the private prison, "These helpless children can be deprived of freedom, of contact, correspondence, and communication with family and friends, or anyone outside the compound; they can be deprived of legal counsel; of sleep, food, privacy, dignity, education; compensation for their labor; the right to refuse treatment or enforced medication; or the need of a second opinion regarding the propriety of the treatment forced upon them; of the right to grieve, to object, to recourse, or to appeal; Harris County made no investigation of the private prison where it allowed H.N. to be sent."

Blank claims she has copies of bills that Aspen submitted to Nuszen for its services, but the residential treatment center has refused to provide any information about H.N.

"The county and its agents either know or should know that Aspen and its co-defendants incarcerate and isolate minors for an indefinite period of time who have never been adjudicated as truant or violators, and throw them in with other minors who may have been highly truant and adjudicated as misdemeanants, or who may have various forms of mental illness, criminal records, or drug addictions," Blank claims.

"The county and its agents know that the prefrontal cortex of H.N. is not fully developed and that its complicity in inflicting upon her undeserved gross and unfair punishment will have a permanent deleterious effect upon her mental and emotional development, and will at the very least, cause her to suffer into adulthood the ravages of post traumatic stress."

Bain Capital purchased Aspen Education for $300 million in 2006.

Analysts estimated that companies like Aspen had profit margins of 10 to 20 percent of revenue, The New York Times reported in 2005, according to Blank's lawsuit.

Blank's attorney did not respond to inquiries by press time.

In January, the companies were sued by parents who claimed Dr. Phil paid to have their teenage daughter locked up.

Blank seeks an injunction and a writ demanding that N.H. appear before a court in Utah, plus punitive damage, for civil rights violations and negligence.

She is represented by Thomas Burton.

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