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Paris Hilton-backed bill regulating troubled teen industry in Utah passes legislature

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Paris Hilton speaks in a Utah Legislature committee hearing on Feb. 8, 2021, telling of her experience in a youth treatment center in Utah. (Photo: KUTV)

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A bill supported by Paris Hilton that would impose additional regulations on residential youth treatment centers and other congregate care programs in Utah has passed the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 127 now goes to Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk.

“Reform to the troubled teen industry in Utah is long overdue,” tweeted Sen. Mike McKell (R-Spanish Fork), the bill sponsor, following the 70-2 vote in the House Tuesday evening. “Thank you @ParisHilton for bringing attention to this critical issue.”

The bill drew outsized attention as Hilton appeared on Utah’s Capitol Hill Feb. 8 to speak in support of it. This came months after the socialite and reality star came forward with allegations of abuse she said she suffered at Provo Canyon School in the late 1990s.

Under the bill, youth treatment programs would be prohibited from imposing certain punishments on children such as denying food or water, spanking or hitting, or other punishment “intended to frighten or humiliate.” The bill would also put additional rules on when those programs could put a child into seclusion, conduct strip or body cavity searches, and use drugs or medication to deal with a child’s behavior.

Provo Canyon School — which Hilton has said should be shut down — has previously told 2News it was sold in August 2000 and cannot comment on any events prior to that time. The school has also said it does not use solitary confinement or forcible medication as a method for punishing children at its facility. Speaking with reporters in February, both McKell and Hilton disputed the school’s assertions.

The legislative session ends March 5.

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