Bad Boys, Bad Boys

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Meanwhile, this October, Rebound will open another boot camp for juveniles in Virginia. Several stories in local papers there have mentioned the "signature" facility in Brush but have not mentioned the troubles there or in Florida or Maryland.

Botkin calls Davidson's report on the Brush facility an "unfair exaggeration." Turnover, he says, "is something many companies face in a full-employment economy." (Botkin has left the company since being interviewed for this story.) O'Shaughnessy adds that "we have many employees who have been working for us for many, many years."

Rebound's position on the rest of the Davidson report now is that it is old news and that the problems that did exist have been fixed. The sex offenders are now in a separate building. The company says the report's concerns about drugs, gangs and the like have been dealt with. They cite the company's "core values," one of which is safety.

Rebound vice president Joe Newman says High Plains has turned its operation around. "And I'm relying on facts," he says. "Not rumors, not complaints from some disgruntled employee. Facts."

He points to a recent accreditation of High Plains by the American Correctional Association, whose board once included company CEO O'Shaughnessy. And Newman cites a letter from another Illinois college professor hired to review High Plains. In that letter, Sonny Goldenstein from Governors State University refers to improvements at the facility. Newman says the question of safety is answered in the last line of the letter. "On a personal note," Goldenstein writes, "I would not hesitate to have my grandson as a student in this program." (Goldenstein did not return calls from Westword.)

Newman says he doesn't understand why people continually question what the company is doing, but he thinks some critics are jealous. Like O'Shaughnessy, he blames the people who have been fired "who couldn't meet our standards."

"There are people with agendas," Newman says. "I think there's a lot of people disappointed that we are doing well." He refuses to elaborate on who those people are.

"There's a certain amount of paranoia on my part," he adds.

At facilities like Rebound's, there's also real fear.
In early 1995 Rob Pearson was working as the only certified teacher at Rebound's boot camp (the camp was required to have three) when he ran across a kid named Nick Reed.

"He had reptilian eyes," Pearson recalls. Of all the boys he taught, Reed was the only one who scared him, and he couldn't communicate with the boy at all. Pearson says that he told his bosses that Reed was too dangerous to be allowed to attend school and that he talked to Rebound officials about finding another program for the boy. His warnings never even made it out of the camp. Rebound graduated Reed along with all the other "recruits" in that class. Pearson says Rebound could have done much more to let parole officers and others know that Reed was potentially dangerous to himself and others. But Pearson believes that Rebound did nothing because it could have reflected badly on the company. (Rebound won't comment on the case.)

Reed was returned to his mother and enrolled at Gateway High School. Two months after his release the fifteen-year-old shot a cabdriver in the back of the head. Nick Reed is now the second-youngest person serving time in Colorado's adult prison system.

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Scott C. Yates

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