Home News Center Ohio JJC and Coalition Help Revoke Sequel Pomegranates License

Ohio JJC and Coalition Help Revoke Sequel Pomegranates License

December 14, 2020
Alyson Clements

What started with
findings from Disability Rights Ohio about inappropriate restraint and numerous abuses at Sequel Pomegranate, a facility charged with caring for teens with mental health and behavioral health needs, led to a long battle by advocates to remove kids from the facility and revoke its operating license.  Late Friday, December 11th, an important victory was won when Sequel relinquished their license.  While this is a critical step to ensure no kids would be subjected to continued abuses, the state left the option open for Sequel to reapply for licensure after ten months.  

Recognizing youth were in jeopardy, NJJN member, Juvenile Justice Coalition Ohio (JJC-OH), in conjunction with other local advocates including ACTION Ohio, Disability Rights Ohio, InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia, Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, Ohio Immigrant Alliance, Ohio Student Association, OHIO Youth Advisory Board, River Valley Voices in Action, and Vincentian Ohio Action Network (VOAN) called on the state to revoke Sequel’s operating license. 

“We were relieved to hear Sequel’s license was revoked protecting youth from future abuse,” said Kenza Kamal of JJC-OH.  “Still the work continues to ensure Ohio no longer does business with Sequel as the company has not been barred from reapplying for licensure in the future. ” 

NJJN’s Executive Director Ricky Watson echoed the sentiment adding, “While Sequel Pomegranate is the latest in the news, we’ve seen documented abuses at Sequel facilities across the country.  We applaud Ohio for this critical step, but the work continues to ensure all states stop warehousing youth for profit, which includes closing facilities subjecting youth to abuse like Sequel Pomegranate.”  NJJN and JJC remain vigilant to prevent Sequel Pomegranate from regaining it’s license, planning continued advocacy over the coming months.

Much like was the case with Sequel’s Lakeside facility in Michigan, where Cornelius Frederick died, girls held at Sequel Pomegranate reported staff weaponizing restraint. 10 Investigates in Ohio reported girls claiming to be restrained for “showing emotion” and being threatened by staff that they “would make it hurt more” if girls resisted restraint. Such abuse was only a piece of the puzzle, with numerous documented allegations of physical and sexual assault by peers and staff.

Other Sequel facilities have also been exposed for similar conditions. In advocacy for Cornelius, NJJN learned of similar concerns of dangerous conditions, abuse, and inappropriate restraint at a number of Sequel facilities. Such concerns include, but are not limited to: poor living conditions and staff abuse at four Alabama based Sequel facilities, documented abuses at the now closed Riverside Academy facility in Kansas, incidents of excessive use of restraint documented at Sequel’s Clarinda facility in Iowa, and “students being allowed to restrain one another” in Utah’s now closed Red Rock Canyon School was shut down in 2019. 

These incidents mirror harms we know run rampant in for-profit facilities and are further evidence that Sequel cannot be trusted to provide care for kids. Closing facilities is a vital first step.  States must begin investing in a continuum of care for young people so they can receive trauma-informed services in their home communities. 

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