SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Celebrity Paris Hilton and activists who successfully pushed for reforms in the so-called troubled teen industry in Utah are now calling for federal legislation to regulate youth residential treatment centers.
Hilton and the nonprofit Breaking Code Silence appeared outside of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“It’s clear that the state-by-state patchwork of limited, weak oversight and inconsistent licensing requirements is not working,” Hilton said. “Federal law and funding are desperately needed to bring real reform and true accountability to congregate care in America.”
The new proposal is sponsored by Democrats Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. It would create a bill of rights to protect kids who are in congregate care facilities. Those rights would include being free from abuse and neglect, freedom from physical and chemical restraints and the right to be free from abusive or traumatizing treatment by staff or other youths. The proposal also has data-collection and funding pieces.
Hilton has become the public face of reform efforts after she publicly said she was abused as a resident in the 1990s at a school in Utah, a state that plays an outsized role in the industry.