National media revisits Pinehaven and legislature's lack of action



Pinehaven Christian Children’s Ranch in St. Ignatius is again drawing national scrutiny with "Anderson Cooper 360" reporting this week on the Montana Legislature’s refusal to regulate the embattled home for troubled youth.


The March 8 Anderson Cooper segment is a follow-up to three-part series that CNN ran last year, titled “Ungodly Discipline.” The Indy first reported in 2010 on the controversial ranch that aims to rehabilitate kids. Last month, we followed up on efforts by Missoula Democratic Rep. Ellie Hill to persuade the Montana Legislature to require private religious youth homes be licensed by the state.

Dave Bingham worked as a house parent at Pinehaven Christian Children's Ranch in St. Ignatius for five years. He still remembers the sounds that the kids made when they were restrained with what ranch staffers referred to as "pressure pointing."

"That really hurts, just to hear the kids screaming," says Bingham, who worked at the ranch with his wife, Denise. "I watched a 17-year-old boy, tough as nails, but somebody else was getting pressure pointed, and he was screaming he was so afraid of what was coming after him."

House Bill 236 would require private religious youth homes to report to the state how behavior is managed, whether regular communication with family members is allowed and if residents are receiving medication and psychological care.

On Feb. 28, House Judiciary Committee Republicans shot down HB 236 on a 12-8 party-line vote.

In the program that aired March 8, CNN asks House Judiciary Committee Chairman Krayton Kerns about his rationale for voting against Pinehaven being licensed. Kerns tells CNN that he doesn’t think that imposing new regulations would affect how Pinehaven's staff treats youth. "I don't think it would change it, I really don't," he says.

You watch the entire segment below:

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