Illuminating Journalism from American Public Media
A four-part series with exclusive data analysis about a northern Minnesota juvenile corrections facility published and broadcast throughout May 2016. The owners closed the operation two months after the first story.
On the Iron Range, investigations have created tension between Mesabi Academy and St. Louis County. Job loss, though, was the main concern when county commissioners discouraged a health and human services leader from ending a critical contract with the company.
The parent company of an Iron Range juvenile residential treatment center said it planned to close the facility by the end of next month. The decision came after several counties pulled residents and the state froze new admissions, actions that followed several APM Reports stories about Mesabi Academy.
A flawed, confused system prevents judges, social services officials and guardians from discovering critical information about the condition of the residential treatment facilities regulated by the Department of Corrections. Mesabi Academy, scheduled to close next month, is a case study. Since opening in 1998, the juvenile correctional facility had been seen as a reliable jobs provider, receiving subsidies from government and tens of millions of dollars in loans from its parent. But attempts to sustain the business may have compromised resident and worker safety.
Families and counties are scrambling to place children after Mesabi Academy said it would close its doors June 30. Hennepin and Ramsey counties have sent more complaints about the correctional facility.
Findings released after investigation into charges of maltreatment, safety violations, poor supervision and training. Governor wants oversight system changed. The center closed June 30 after an investigation by APM Reports.
• Legal settlement nears • Some former residents are in jail or charged with crimes • Whistleblower has no regrets • The state changes how it regulates juvenile facilities • Buhl can't find a buyer for the building KidsPeace left behind
The families of 17 kids settled their lawsuit against the owner of Mesabi Academy for $1.495 million, even as more treatment centers closed, forcing youth with mental health needs to wait months for care.
Minnesota's Department of Corrections tracks reports about the 60-plus juvenile residential treatment centers it licenses. But it does little to disseminate that information. APM Reports obtained the data about what the department calls incidents and complaints for 2009 to March 2016 and sorted it in this searchable table.