Colorado Bans Court-Ordered “Brainwashing” Camps For Abused Minors

Colorado has become the first state in the nation to ban court-ordered camps where children are ‘reunified’ with a parent who has been accused of abusing them.

Protesters outside the courthouse in Santa Cruz, Calif., following the release of a video showing two teens being dragged out of their homes under a court order that they be taken away to a reunification camp. (Courtesy of Alienation Industry)

These reunification camps are used by family court judges to settle private custody disputes or divorces involving minors. As part of the order, camp workers are sometimes given temporary custody of the children so they can legally take them from their homes. While at the camp, children are forced into what some have described as a “brainwashing technique” that the camps call “reunification therapy.”

According to Tina Swithin, Founder of One Mom’s Battle, forcing children back into a relationship with an abusive parent is essentially “court-ordered child trafficking,” the Epoch Times reports.

Evita Tolu, an attorney in Missouri where she has represented children forced into reunification counseling with an abusive parent, called the practice “kafkaesque”—a term based on German novelist Franz Kafka who wrote stories about characters who were subject to severely bizarre bureaucratic powers.

The Epoch Times reached out for comment from the three major court-ordered reunification camps: Family Bridges, Turning Points for Families, and Lynn Steinberg’s reunification camp. None responded.

Some children sent to the camps have described being dragged out of their homes by transport workers, being handcuffed, and transported to an unknown place. Some children have alleged undergoing degrading punishments if they don’t say they love the parent who allegedly abused them. -Epoch Times

“I was so terrified, I couldn’t stop shaking,” said one former ‘inmate’ of such camps, Allyson Bender, who recounted her experience in 2017 when she was 16-years-old.

More via the Epoch Times;

The Colorado law, which now bans judges from ordering children to attend reunification camps against their will came on the heels of a string of tragic murders of children within a month by Colorado parents awarded custody despite having either convictions or pending allegations against them.

It also followed the results of a state audit that turned up evidence that at least one custody evaluator admitted he dismissed 90 percent of child abuse claims without investigating them.

The main trigger for ordering children to attend reunification camps is an allegation that they have made false allegations of child abuse against their parent as part of the other parent’s plot to alienate them from the accused parent.

As The Epoch Times and other media outlets have reported, family court judges have been found in a high number of cases to refuse to consider evidence of child abuse against a parent.

In some cases, the judges have ordered the suppression of criminal convictions of child abuse against a parent. Some parents who brought up past convictions have themselves been accused of parental alienation.

As part of the practice, the parent accused of “alienation” is often stripped of custody and children are ordered to undergo reunification therapy.

Court-ordered reunification has been denounced by several organizations including the American Psychiatric Association. Insurance companies will not insure the camps or the therapy administered. The therapy costs an average of $5,000 a day, according to bills shared with The Epoch Times by parents.

The length of the stay in the camps averages 90 days. But as one parent told The Epoch Times in March, his two girls were kept “indefinitely” at the reunification camp. They were forcibly transported by “transporters” in California under a family judge’s court order.

Family court judges are basically doing whatever they want with our kids,” Riley, who says he went broke paying for the camps, told The Epoch Times.

In addition to the Colorado legislation, Swithin’s group has filed a class action lawsuit against the Turning Points for Families reunification camp and its owner Linda Gottlieb on behalf of several children who say there were abused at the camp.

Gottlieb did not respond to inquiries from The Epoch Times.

On its website, the camp, which operates nationwide, bills itself as “a therapeutic vacation” and refers to parental alienation as child abuse.

On its website, the caption under a picture of a child’s hand reaching out to an adult’s hand reads, “It is anti-instinctual to reject a parent—even an abusive parent.”

Other states are considering legislation similar to Colorado’s recently passed ban on courts ordering children to attend reunification camps.

Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire have tried repeatedly to pass legislation banning reunification therapy.

The lawmakers recently got the child and family law committee to form a special committee to study the state’s family court system.

The committee has so far held four hearings. Parents and advocates for court reform have been held to a strict five minutes to speak, while judges and other supporters of the court have been allowed to speak for up to an hour.


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