Aspen Ranch

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Current status Closed
Detainees.gif Capacity 80
Checked December 21, 2011
Open.gif Opened 1995
Close.gif Closed 2011 [1]

Aspen Ranch was a behavior modification facility located near Loa, Utah [2]

It was established in 1995 and is a part of Aspen Education Group.

The detainees were a mix of children placed and paid for by their parents and detainees court-ordered to serve their time at the facility. There are about 80 detainees at the facility.

An average stay took 11 months, but parents were advised not to talk about the length of the stay to prevent the child from knowing his or her release date [3].

Program description

Most of the detainees arrived by use of a Youth transport firm, but some arrived with their parents.

Level system

The level system consisted of five levels.

When students arrived,they were placed on orientation. They still slept in the same room and do the same things as the other prisoners, but they had to wear a plain white t-shirt and remained an arms length away from a staff member at all times.

To make levels, they had to complete packets and demonstrate certain behaviors. To get to the higher levels ,the indiviual had to boss every one around and snitch on other people to look good themselves.

Level Name Objective for level
Mustang Respect
Maverick Responsibility
Greenhorn Relationship
Rider Integrity
Wrangler Contribution


During the first month, the teenager could only write letters and receive mail from parents, which may be altered with.

After a month, the student had a phone call with the parents in the therapists office. The call was on speaker phone, so if the teen attempted to tell parents of the ranchs abuse or try to ask to go home, the therapist would immediatly turn the phone call off.


  • Service hours, ex:hauling hay,scooping horse manure out of barn and corrals,feeding pigs,filling in holes in road.
  • Taking accountability for actions
  • When a student forgets something ,they must do an "image breaker" which consiss of making yoursel look like a fool for at least 30 seconds.For example-acting like you are pregnant,acting like a dog, pretending to be blind, role playing a gay police man,etc
  • PCS-when a kid refuses to move, he can get pcsd, which consists of staff bending the teens wi=rist behind his back and other painful pressure points.
  • Papers - staff may make the kid write a paper on why something is wrong and present it to the team.


The facility was accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Living conditions

The detainees live in cottages with twelve other detainees. There are seven cottages; 3 for girls and 4 for boys. Each cottage have three bedrooms with bunk beds in them.

Visitations friends / extended family

People who wanted to support their friend / relative detained at this facility have a difficult task. The road where the facility was placed, is not public. That means that they could be charged with trespassing. Also all communication were going through the parent(s) who had custody (The nature of the facility made it fit as a tool in a nasty divorce war). The homepage of the program didn't not tell whether the detained teenagers leave the ranch for church so handing them legal documents about emancipation could be difficult.

News, articles, statements

One of the therapist listed on the program website was not accredited according to a meeting at Utah Marriage and Family Licensing Board [4]. The board ordered the website corrected.

A child was removed from her home in the middle of the night and ended up at Aspen Ranch where she broke down under intense therapy and confessed being raped [5]. The defense claimed that the statement from the girl was made so she could obtain privileges at the facility.

The facility was used as detention in relation to a Dr.Phil show, when another Aspen program - SUWS of Carolina failed treating "Tim" for alcohol- and drug-use [6] [7].

One of the children banished to the ranch by his parents has support groups on the internet. He was not even allowed to speak to his own grandmom for the first six weeks [8] [9][10]

March 2011 it was announced that the program would close in 2011 [1]

External links

Info Pages

Survivor Groups

Message boards