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Alabama youth center allegedly kept kids in tiny isolation cells for weeks

(Video above: Fox 10 report on alleged abuses at the Saving Youth Foundation)

Administrators at The Saving Youth Foundation, a residential housing facility for troubled youth in Mobile County, Ala., are being accused of abusing children in their care, even keeping some of them in solitary confinement in small boxes for weeks. Mobile Police and the Department of Human Resources removed kids from the facility this week while the investigation takes place.

A Fox 10 investigative report found a note on the wall of the facility outlining disciplinary procedures, including isolation.

Isolation time: (1st offense 3 days, 2nd offense 15 days, anything over 3 offenses will receive no less than 25 days.)

Among the offenses that could lead to isolation were lying, stealing and attempting to runaway, but there were also more ambiguous offenses, such as “disrespect.”

One young girl alleges that she was kept in a tiny isolation cell for 22 days after writing a letter to her mother asking for help.

“They would put you in handcuffs and shackles if they felt like they wanted to,” she told Fox 10. “Sometimes they would strip you down to your bra and underwear and you were in there 24 hours a day.”

John Young, the “pastor” who runs the facility, says the allegations are not true and that the sign on the wall was simply meant to deter bad behavior.

“We set certain rules in place, ‘so if you do this, this is going to happen,’ to really stear them away… A lot of it is a bluff,” he said.”

Retired Prichard Police captain Charles Kennedy claims abuse has been taking place at the facility for years.

“I had a couple of boys who would actually sneak in there and call me on the telephone to tell me about things that were going on out there,” he said.

However, a Mobile County DHR investigation found no instances of abuse or neglect at that time.

But with a new investigation now underway, Mobile District Attorney Ashely Rich says they will get to the bottom of what is going on.

“We’re trying to reach back out to them and get a full formal interview of the allegations they are making,” she told Fox 10. “Then 9we’ll) try to determine if the allegations they’re making rise to the level of what’s considered ‘willful abuse’ under the law of the state of Alabama.”

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