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Joseph A. from Teen Challenge, Sanford, Florida reports:
"Teen Challenge professes to be a Christian Program that helps with life controlling issues such as drugs and alcohol addiction. The program is allegedly a not for profit agency affiliated with the Assemblies of God Churches. In actuality, this program is a work camp that forces clients to work 8 – 10 hour days in ways that are not helpful to them and not always legal. Residents are frequently outsourced for jobs with local companies to earn money for the organization. They are often reduced, in exchange for 1 – 2 hours of Bible study, 1 hour of unprofessional counseling per week and room and board, to beggars taking up collections on street corners for profit, or setting up carwashes in department store parking lots for profit.
Clients without driver’s licenses drive vans full of other workers to and from these money-making ventures. In Sanford in 2004, two workers were killed on the interstate in an auto accident. The van had two faulty tires, no brake lights and an unlicensed driver. Teen Challenge was sued by the families of the victims and the case was settled out of court.
I myself, a convicted drug abuser, was assigned a job as Medical Coordinator in Sanford, dispensing medications to other residents. Not only was that illegal, it was dangerous to both me and the other clients. Any competent and respectable rehabilitation organization should have more appropriate policies and procedures in place and practice.
Also in Sanford, convicted felons working at outsourced jobs were directed to get clients’ credit card numbers over the phone. When it came to light, the customers became very angry that convicted felons had access to their credit card numbers and got the courts involved. In reality, people trying to get their lives together should not be spending their time performing illegal activities for Teen Challenge or its clients. Teen Challenge workers were as much victims as the customers.
The director of the program was re-assigned out of state when the Sanford Teen Challenge came under legal and financial scrutiny. Despite legal, moral, ethical and financial issues, Teen Challenge quickly ushered in a new Director where it continued business-as-usual.
At best, Teen Challenge is a human-trafficking operation that takes advantage of people’s problems, holds clients captive and uses them as commodities for its own gain. It forces them to work long hours only for the monetary benefit of the program and its administrators. At its worst, it is a brainwashing cult. It complicates problems and turns out robots that have problems making educated informed decisions for themselves. Despite the statistics it spouts out, Teen Challenge has no success rate. Prison or county jails are better alternatives than places like Teen Challenge."