Paris Hilton testifies on bill aimed at changing Utah human services programs

Local Politics

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Paris Hilton was in Utah to advocate against youth treatment facilities.

Hilton testified on a bill that addresses the issues she has been advocating for with youth treatment facilities.

In September, Hilton started a petition with allegations against Provo Canyon School. It addressed what she claims as “institutional child abuse she suffered as a teenager at Provo Canyon School (PCS), a notorious residential treatment center in Utah that still operates today,” as stated in the petition.

The petition, on Change.org, says Hilton went to Provo Canyon School in her youth and claims her experience has a “horrific legacy of abuse and mistreatment.”

This came after a documentary, “This is Paris,” was released on YouTube.

“It’s time to shut the school down to ensure the safety of the children at this school now and prevent future generations of survivors,” she said in the petition.

In October, she took her call to action to the school’s front doors, organizing a protest in a park near Provo Canyon School. She was joined by several hundreds of others who shared stories of abuse they say they experienced in the school and similar schools for troubled youth.

“It’s something so traumatic that you don’t even want to think it’s real,” Hilton said in a speech to the crowd. “It’s something I blocked from my memory forever.”

She stayed at Provo for 11 months and says while there, she was abused mentally and physically, claiming staff would beat her, force her to take unknown pills, watch her shower and send her to solitary confinement without clothes as punishment.

The Provo Canyon School is now under new ownership and the administration told ABC4 they cannot comment on anything that happened before them.

The bill Hilton testified is SB127, which modifies provisions related to human services programs in Utah.

View the full text of the bill below:

According to the bill text, sponsored by Senator Michael McKell (R-Utah County), SB127 “provides incident reporting requirements for persons licensed by the Office of Licensing, requires the Office of Licensing to review certain policies and procedures established by a human services program,” “requires the Office of Licensing to inspect each congregate care program multiple times a year, describes when a congregate care program may use a restraint or seclusion,” prohibits from sex and gender based discrimination, and “requires a congregate care program to maintain suicide prevention policies.”

“My name is Paris Hilton, I am an institutional abuse survivor and I speak today on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of children currently in residential care facilities across the United States,” Hilton said as she began her testimony.

Hilton then goes on to speak about a recurring nightmare about an experience in which she describes being carried out of her home by strangers while she screams for her parent’s help, a nightmare that she says was in fact a real experience.

She describes how when she was 16-years-old, two transporters showed up to her home with handcuffs and asked her if she “wanted to go the easy way or the hard way.” Hilton was later taken to the airport and separated from her family. After being taken to facilities in other states, Hilton was taken to the Provo Canyon School.

During her testimony, an emotional Hilton recounts the physical and emotional abuse at the Provo Canyon School in the 1990’s. She alleges that she was treated like an inmate at the school, and wasn’t allowed to see sunlight or breathe fresh air during her 11 months at the Provo Canyon School

“I cannot go to sleep at night knowing that there are children that are enduring the same abuse that I and so many others went through, and neither should you,” an emotional Hilton said in her testimony.

After Hilton’s testimony, Senate Bill 127 was passed unanimously out of a Senate Committee. The bill will now move to the Utah Senate for a vote.

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