Royal Gorge Academy

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Information
Current status Closed
Detainees.gif Capacity 44 [1]
Checked November 6, 2010
Open.gif Opened 2006
Close.gif Closed 2008

Royal Gorge Academy is a behavior modification facility located at 615 Pike Avenue, Canon City, Colorado [2].

It is associated with World Wide Association Of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASP).

The target group was boys and girls aged 13 to 17. Both genders livde on the campus, but they were separated. The length of a stay was about a year, as the facility stated [3].

Program description

The facility claimed to deal with the following problems [4]:

  • Academic underachievement and/or school avoidance
  • Shows potential, but struggles at home or in the community
  • Low self-esteem
  • Resistant and oppositional to authority
  • Unresolved grief reactions, including parental divorce
  • Disrespectful of rules, standards, and social values
  • Drastic changes in peer associations
  • Shows early signs of substance abuse

Methods used

In order to fix those problems, the detainees had to live under a strict set of rules. According to the student manual [5] some of the methods were:

  • No interactions between the detainees.
  • Regardless of the school placement in Colorado, the detainees has to speak Spanish during the meals so the staff, which consists of low paid employees, can understand uncivil or impolite speech.
  • Have uniform on at all times during the day. Dress code is strict and gender oriented. However, after curfew only clothes appropriate for sleeping are allowed in order to minimize the risk of runaways.
  • Letter writing to parents only on the lowest level. Phone calls and visit from family has to be earned. (According to the FAQ page on the homepage of the facility, supervised phone calls to their parents can be expected to be permitted after a month. But there is no guarantee [6]).
  • During curfew all kinds of communication is punishable. That means talking, note passing, facial gestures or hand gestures.
  • All mail to the detainee is opened in front of a staff member and monitored to see if the content follows the guidelines. All outgoing mail is processed and monitored through the staff.
  • The facility has a intervention room used to isolate detainees, whom have broken rules.
  • The staff has permission from the parents to restrain the detainees.
  • In order to return home after fulfilling all other requirements, the detainee must make a Home contract with the parents outlining the conditions for a continued stay at his or her childhood home.

Schooling

The facility claimed to be a school. However there was no reference to the school at the homepage of the United States Department of Education. The schooling the facility offered self study with a computer. Each detainee worked at his or her own pace. They worked through a chapter, then they filled out a questionnaire, which should tell them whether they had understood the text or not.

In the news

January 2007, the director of the facility Randall Hinton - long-time employee at various WWASP facilities (including Tranquility Bay, where he confirmed the use off pepper spray on detainees [7]) - was arrested of suspicion of child abuse [8]. Additional charges could be added depending the outcome of the investigations [9] [10] [11]

The trial started in august 2007 where accounts of the incidents are given in court [12] [13] [14]. Randall Hinton was found guilty in one count of guilty of one count each of third-degree assault and false imprisonment [15]

October 2008 it was announced that the facility shut down and very interesting some of the detainees were transported to Red River Academy by van as cattle instead of humans. The proof that Royal Gorge worked with WWASP all along became very clear [16][17]

Octwell owns Red River Academy in Lecompte, Louisiana. Some of the 45 students were sent there by van Wednesday and Thursday. Many of the students were from out of state and are returning home to California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Florida.

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External links

Info pages

Survivor statement

Survivor Groups

Message Boards

References

  1. Staff planning for Feb. 17 opening day, by Toby Swisher, CanonCafe, Feb 2010 (Reprint from Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse)
  2. Facility on Google maps
  3. Parent manual, Royal Gorge Academy
  4. Student profile, Royal Gorge Academy
  5. Student manual, Royal Gorge Academy
  6. Facility homepage FAQ
  7. Pepper Spray Used in Teen Treatment Programs, Youtube, video clip
  8. Canon City private school director arrested, by James Jarman, First News koaa.com
  9. News about Royal Gorge Academy, strugglingteens.com
  10. Academy director could face additional charges, Canon City Daily Record, 1/24/2007
  11. Inside the Academy, by Vic Vela, Canon City Daily Record, 3/7/2007 (Reprint from Coalition Against Institutuionalized Child Abuse (CAICA))
  12. More students testify in Hinton case, Boy claims he was slammed against wall, by Vic Vela, Canon City Daily Record, 8/29/07
  13. Former employee testifies at Hinton trial, Secretary claims she was disturbed by incidents, by Vic Vela, Canon City Daily Record, 8/30/2007
  14. Hinton denies abuse charge, by Vic Vela, Canon City Daily Record, 8/31/2007. Randall Hinton was found guilty in one count of guilty of one count each of third-degree assault and false imprisonment
  15. After a six-hour deliberation, a six-person jury found Randall Hinton - the project manager and co-founder of the Royal Gorge Academy boarding school - guilty of one count each of third-degree assault and false imprisonment., by Vic Vela, Canon City Daily Record, 9/1/2007
  16. School Shuts Down, Dozens Lose Their Jobs, By Marshall Zelinger, KRDO Radio News, october 17 2008
  17. HEAL Newsletter: November 5th, 2010