Legislation seeking to regulate Utah's troubled teen industry has gained final approval in the House and is headed to the governor for consideration, weeks after Paris Hilton gave emotional testimony in support of the bill.
The proposal would require more government oversight of youth residential treatment centers and documentation for when they use restraints. It would also prohibit treatment centers from using sedation or mechanical restraints without prior authorization. The bill passed the state House on Tuesday.
Hilton testified last month in support of the legislation and spoke about abuse she says she suffered at Provo Canyon School for 11 months at age 17. Hilton says she was abused mentally and physically, recalling that staff members would beat her, force her to take unknown pills, watch her shower and send her to solitary confinement without clothes as punishment.
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The socialite and reality TV star also spoke about the abuse in a documentary titled “This is Paris” that was released this fall.
The Provo institution is under new ownership and the administration has said it can’t comment on anything that came before the change, including Hilton’s time there. A statement on the school website says the previous owners sold the school in 2000.
Since the documentary was released, other celebrities have spoken out about their experiences at the school or others like it, including Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris Jackson and tattoo artist Kat Von D.
Eppolito is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.