An ACLU investigation revealed that a residential treatment center for at-risk youth routinely confines children in so-called “Reflection Cottages” for days and even weeks at a time. At El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch, the “Reflection Cottages” are small concrete rooms with no furniture other than a concrete slab that serves as a bed. Children are forbidden to speak with others and must ask permission to use the bathroom. Children are not allowed to go outside or provided opportunity for exercise.

Regulations of the Colorado Department of Human Services strictly controls the use of restraint and seclusion at childcare facilities. The regulations clearly prohibit seclusion of children “except in emergency situations and only after less restrictive alternatives have been exhausted.” The regulations also specify that seclusion should not exceed two hours except in the most extraordinary cases and should end when the emergency passes.

The ACLU of Colorado has called on the Department of Human Services to put a stop to El Pueblo’s violation of the state regulations restricting the use of solitary confinement.

View photos of the reflection cottages: Photo 1, Photo 2

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Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director; Rebecca Wallace, ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney