Earlier this year, the state of Wyoming revoked the licensing of the Triangle Cross Ranch, a group home facility in that state that had been accused of torturing children and forcing them to undertake hard labor. Last month, the proprietor of the small facility said he had been designated guardian of the youth residing there, allowing him to continue operating without a license.
The licensing exemption means that ranches or farms that do not offer services to youngsters who are homeless, delinquent, or have an intellectual handicap means that state inspectors won’t perform routine welfare inspections in the future.
The troubled teen industry is a constant game of whack-a-mole as companies change names, operations move across state lines, or licenses are changed from a residential treatment center to a boarding school, all with the promise of therapy and other services to help kids struggling at home with depression or addiction. State governments are responsible for monitoring such initiatives because they receive no federal support at all.
NBC News conducted an investigation into the ranch and a similar facility for girls, Trinity Teen Solutions, last year and found that both have been operating in remote Wyoming for years despite numerous accusations of abusive treatment from young people. Triangle Cross Ranch was found to be in violation of multiple state regulations, including falsely advertising its services, retaliating against boys who spoke to state officials about their treatment, and forcing minors to physically restrain one other, all of which were documented by state inspectors.
Three weeks after the NBC News story was published, Trinity Teen Solutions voluntarily shut down, citing the inability to recruit new students as the reason for the closure.
Between 2015 and 2022, Triangle Cross Ranch accrued 45 violations, according to the Wyoming Department of Family Services, and this year alone, 35 violations have been recorded. Seven times since March, inspectors found feces in the ranch’s buildings, trash and shattered glass spread in the yard, an unsecured big knife, and unused tobacco items.