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Royal Gorge Academy is a behavior modification facility located at 615 Pike Avenue, Canon City, Colorado [1].

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

The target group is boys and girls aged 13 to 17. Both genders live on the campus, but they are separated. The length of a stay is about a year, as the facility states [2].

Program description

The facility claims to deal with the following problems [3].:

  • 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 must live under a strict set of rules. According to the student manual [4] some of the methods are:

  • 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 [5]).
  • 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.


The facility claims to be a school. However there is no reference to the school at the United States Department of Education. The schooling the facility offers is self study with a computer. Each detainee works at his or her own pace. They work through a chapter, then they fill out a questionnaire, which should tell them whether they have 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 [6]) - was arrested of suspicion of child abuse [7]. Additional charges could be added depending the outcome of the investigations [8] [9] [10].

The trial started in august 2007 where accounts of the incidents are given in court. [11] [12] [13]. Randall Hinton was found guilty in one count of guilty of one count each of third-degree assault and false imprisonment [14].


External links