The facility is one of several hundred bootcamp-style detoxification centers that have opened across China in the past decade, amid growing concerns about the amount of time young people spend online.
Court documents show Tuesday that four surnames Wu, Ren, Zhang, and Qu were found guilty of illegal detention after detaining 12 young people in solitary confinement at the Yuzhang Academy in Jiangxi Province for up to 10 days. Eleven of the victims were under the age of 18 at the time.
Wu was sentenced to almost three years in prison, while Ren and Zhang were sentenced to two years and seven months and one year and ten months, respectively. Qu was sentenced to 11 months.
The facility hit the headlines in 2017 after the local government announced it was investigating allegations of severe physical punishment for students to “promote the moral character of teenagers,” reports in state media.
According to the state-run tabloid Global Times, former students accused Yuzhang Academy staff of placing new students in “little black rooms” with nothing but a blanket and a pot for a toilet.
“I was watched all the time,” a former student surnamed Xuan told the Global Times in 2017.
The Chinese government has taken a number of measures to combat Internet addiction in recent years. In November, Beijing announced a curfew for people under the age of 18 to stop playing online video late into the night. They can play for up to 90 minutes on weekdays and up to three hours on weekends.