Provo Canyon School Experience - 2003
(Author wishes to remain anonymous pending lawsuit)
It is now May 2005
and I am now nearly 19 years old. I am attending college part time
and work as a sales representative for a printing company. I've been
promoted to vice president. I graduated from High School last year
and have been successful because my parents rescued me from a
private prison in Orem, Utah. It wasn't called a prison of course.
It was called Provo Canyon School.
In December 2003 I
was 17 and became a patient at Provo Canyon School. My experience
there was horrific and abusive to the best of my recollection. I had
been diagnosed with severe depression and post traumatic stress
syndrome. The treatment I received was in no way therapeutic for my
diagnosis. On the worst day, I was given a forced injection of a
powerful chemical restraint, Haldol, while 6 people brutally held me
down on the ground. One staff member cried and said, "if I hold her
down any harder I may break her arm." This was punishment for
getting out of a chair to use the restroom without permission and
speaking my mind to a rude staff member.
I was put in
solitary confinement for hours upon hours with out being able to use
the restroom or get a drink of water because I fought against this
injection of an unknown drug. When I discussed this maltreatment in
a group therapy session my therapist was called and he ordered
strict isolation and seclusion for a week. This meant that I could
not look at or talk to any other person. I was forced to stare at a
wall most of the day and do chores.
I was not allowed
to go to school or church. I had to eat my meals alone. I was
punished for smiling at another patient. Could this in any way have
been therapeutic for a depressed patient?
Before being placed
in solitary I was thrown on the ground and against the wall to have
my jewelry and clothing stripped off. This was punishment for not
allowing an unlicensed staff member read a letter I was writing
I was tormented by
the staff who I thought should be people we could talk to in time of
need. I truly believe that some were sadistic. My therapist would
breach my confidentiality to the staff, who would then use my
innermost thoughts against me.
All of my civil
rights were taken away from me. There was no freedom of speech,
movement, religion. I was punished for verbal communication as well
as non verbal communication. I was not able to attend church
meetings and was not allowed to read my Bible.
I also witnessed
abuse besides my own. I witnessed a 15 year old girl who had her
nose broken by Provo Canyon School staff while they were attempting
to give her a forced injection of Haldol. This dose of Haldol caused
her to overdose and it was an over dose for me as well. We both had
facial contortions, blindness, difficulty swallowing, and severe
pain. We both asked to see a nurse and were neglected. While in
observation/solitary confinement I was neglected while unconscious.
I later learned that my vital signs were not taken, I could have
been dead. Luckily I am alive to this day and the 22 days of hell I
experienced are in the past.
My abuse started
with a full body cavity search on day one. Ten days after admission
I had been the victim of two human take downs and restraint,
isolation for eight hours in a concrete room with a concrete floor,
forced to sit in a chair for 80 hours, drugged against my will with
a dangerous drug used as a chemical restraint. This drug caused
severe side effects - blindness, coma, shortness of breath, rash,
facial contortions, drooling, pain, and lethargy. Staff did not
seek any emergency care for me or monitor me in any way. I was
kicked by staff for not waking up after being placed into a drug
induced stupor. My hair was pulled and I suffered verbal and
When I was finally
allowed to call home to speak to my parents after 10 days I was
still under the influence of the forced drugging. I was only allowed
to speak to my parents twice in one month and both of those calls
were monitored by my therapist.
The treatment I
endured derailed me mentally. I went along with an irrational
escape attempt with 5 other girls. One other girl, L.D., and I were
caught. Staff stripped us naked and left us in the concrete
observation rooms where they had turned the air conditioner up to 50
degrees. I was turning blue. After a half hour of this
nude/hypothermic torture they threw us some bright orange sweat
suits to put on because police officers were coming to investigate
the escape attempt. We talked to police and pleaded with them to
take us to juvenile hall. They did as we asked. I felt safer there
and was finally allowed to speak to my parents.
Within days my
parents came to Utah and rescued me. They were horrified when they
saw me pale, nervous and bruised. The other girl, age 15, was not so
fortunate. Her family did not come out to rescue her and she was
sent back to Provo Canyon School. Her fate still haunts me. The
last time I saw her was at the court house wearing her bright
orange, tattered sweatsuit with four staff members surrounding her
so she could not run again. She was not allowed to speak to me, so
I never had the opportunity to say goodbye.
If you are
considering this facility or another one that uses behavior
modification, or if you have your child friend or relative in this
facility - PLEASE subject yourself to the following experiment: Sit
on the concrete floor of your garage when it is about 40 - 50
degrees outside, have nothing more than a sweat suit on, stare
strait ahead for two hours. After the two hours ask yourself if any
person should be punished in such a manner.
Realize that your
child will be punished like this for any arbitrary reason - like
talking without permission, standing, looking the wrong way, rolling
their eyes. Imagine if you had to do this for 4 hours, even 8 hours
This is what
children are subjected to on a daily basis for any minor infraction
at Provo Canyon School. One girl was in this room every day. Staff
told her it was "her home."
The United States
signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Would you consider being forced
to sit in a cold, small concrete room on the concrete floor for
hours degrading, even painful. State authorities who are supposed to
protect children in the states that host these programs allow these
atrocities to occur. My mother informed many authorities in Utah
about the abuse I experienced and witnessed and they did little to
nothing to protect the children from this type of abuse. In my
opinion these authorities should be removed from office because they
are allowing children to be abused, degraded and inhumanely punished
in the name of treatment. These tactics are used solely to
brainwash, terrorize and change minds.
UN definition: Part
1 Article 1: the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain
or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted
on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third
person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a
third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or
intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or FOR ANY REASON
based on discrimination of any kind...
PCS uses a concrete
closet to imprison students. The children must sit on the cold floor
for hours, isolated from others. They also use powerful and
dangerous drugs as chemical restraints to place adolescent patients
into drug-induced comas. They force children to sit in chairs for
most of the day as punishment. Any child with a will or "attitude"
will be broken by this punishment. They may never be the same - but
that is what the intent is - TO CHANGE. Whatever works - includes
torture. This must not be allowed in our country. I'm sure Provo
Canyon School is not the only facility doing this.
All of these
programs must be better regulated and the patients/students must
have their basic civil and human rights protected by the government.
The only thing that
possibly benefited me was that I was better able to appreciate my
freedom and home life because I had just spent time in HELL.
Provo Canyon School
was shut down once before in the 1980's. The authorities must close
Canyon School December 2003