POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Paris Hilton backs California bill to bring more transparency to youth treatment facilities

Apr 16, 2024, 1:23 PM

Paris Hilton is pictured at a news conference....

Paris Hilton is pictured at a news conference.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Paris Hilton joined California state lawmakers Monday to push for legislation aimed at cracking down on the industry that cares for troubled teens by requiring more transparency from youth treatment facilities.

The bill supported by the Hilton Hotel heiress and media personality aims to pry open information on how short-term residential facilities for youth dealing with substance abuse and behavioral issues use disciplinary methods such as restraints or seclusion against minors. It would require such centers to notify parents and the state any time they use restrains or seclusion rooms for minors. It’s authored by Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove and Democratic state Sens. Aisha Wahab and Angelique Ashby.

On Monday, Hilton testified in a legislative hearing in support of the bill, detailing her harrowing abuse as a teenager at a facility in Utah that she said still haunts her and urging lawmakers to take actions before more children have to suffer similar treatment.

“Our current system designed to reform, in some horrific instances, does the exact opposite,” Hilton told lawmakers Monday. “It breaks spirits and instills fear, and it perpetuates a cycle of abuse. But today, we have the power to change that.”

The California bill passed committee with bipartisan support on Monday. Under the bill, facilities would have to report details such as what disciplinary actions were taken, why and who had approved the plan. The state department regulating the facilities also would be required to make public the reports and update the database on the quarterly basis. It would not ban the use of such practices.

Hilton has become a prominent advocate for more oversight and regulation of teen treatment centers after publicly sharing the physical and mental abuse she suffered as a teenager. She alleged staff members would beat her, force her to take unknown pills, watch her shower and send her to solitary confinement without clothes as punishment.

In 2021, her testimony about her experience at Utah’s Provo Canyon School helped pass a bill to impose stricter oversight over youth treatment centers in the state. Hilton has also traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for federal reforms and helped changed laws to protect minors in at least eight states. Earlier this month, she spoke in support of boys sent to a private school for troubled teens in Jamaica.

Paris Hilton Testifies About Utah Youth Treatment Centers

Hilton, whose company called 11:11 Media is sponsoring the bill, called the legislation “a game changer” that would shed light on child abuse at youth residential treatments and hold them accountable.

“This would have been so helpful to myself and so many others to have known what was happening behind closed doors,” Paris said in an interview. “Because I was cut off from the outside world, I couldn’t tell my family anything, and that’s what they do.”

Between 2015 and 2020, California sent more than 1,240 children with behavior problems to out-of-state facilities due to the lack of locked treatment centers for youths, according to Sen. Grove’s office. As reports about abuse happening at these programs emerged, including an incident where a 16-year-old boy died after being restrained for about 12 minutes at a Michigan facility, California also found significant licensing violations at these facilities and decided to do away with the program in 2020. Legislation passed in 2021 formally banned the use of out-of-state residential centers. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also authorized $8 million to bring all the minors home by last year.

Minors with behavioral issues are now sent to in-state short-term residential centers, which were created in 2017 to replace group homes. But under current laws, these facilities are not required to share information on how often they use seclusion rooms, restraints, and how many times those methods result in serious injuries or deaths.

Children at these facilities make up one of the most vulnerable populations, including foster youths who have previously been sexually exploited, Grove said.

“It’s a small but critical step to ensure the increased transparency and accountability for California’s children,” she said Monday.

KSL 5 TV Live

Politics & Elections

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall shares the 2024-25 recommended budget at a Salt Lake City Coun...

Mary Culbertson

SLC Mayor Mendenhall proposes her salary increase by 26% amid turbulent budget meetings

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall proposed a 26% salary increase for herself in the city's budget proposal meetings. Her office argues it's a deserved and overdue increase, while constituents question the amount.

17 hours ago

Utah Capitol where lawmakers passed a deal to possible raise a tax and quickly spend the money on d...

Lindsay Aerts

Lawmakers defend Sept. 1 contract deadline on downtown plans

The deal to raise Salt Lake City's sales tax to help house the new NHL team and revitalize downtown is moving fast and lawmakers are defending the deadline.

22 hours ago

AI could offer ‘enhanced opportunities’ to interfere in 2024 election, DHS warns as a voter cas...

Sean Lyngaas, CNN

AI could offer ‘enhanced opportunities’ to interfere in 2024 election, DHS warns

Artificial intelligence tools for creating fake video, audio and other content will likely give foreign operatives and domestic extremists “enhanced opportunities for interference” as the 2024 US election cycle progresses, the Department of Homeland Security said in a recent bulletin distributed to state and local officials and obtained by CNN.

2 days ago

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may face internation...

Nadeen Ebrahim, CNN

Hamas and Israeli leaders may face international arrest warrants. Here’s what that means

The International Criminal Court prosecutor is seeking international arrest warrants for top Hamas officials and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on allegations of war crimes.

3 days ago

Abravanel Hall is pictured in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Smith Entertainment Group, ...

Lindsay Aerts

Plan for updating Abravanel Hall estimated to cost hundreds of millions

Estimates for updating Abravanel Hall, home of the Utah Symphony, are estimated to cost over $200 million.

3 days ago

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 20: Former U.S. President Donald Trump with attorney Todd Blanche (L) retu...

Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Offenhartz and Alanna Durkin Richer

Michael Cohen says he stole from Trump’s company as defense presses key hush money trial witness

Former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen admitted to jurors in the Republican’s hush money trial that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from Trump’s company.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Paris Hilton backs California bill to bring more transparency to youth treatment facilities