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Teen's death sparks inquiry



The American Civil Liberties Union is expressing interest in the case of Orlena Parker, a 15-year-old girl who died in March after being restrained by personnel at the Devereux Cleo Wallace Center, a private Colorado Springs institution for troubled youths.

The ACLU's Colorado chapter wrote to the center on April 30, requesting copies of its restraint procedures and policies. The organization has previously sued the El Paso County Sheriff's Office over restraint procedures in the county jail, which it claimed had caused injury and death among inmates. However, Dipak Patel, intake director for the Colorado ACLU, said it was premature to comment on whether the organization might sue over Parker's death.

A final autopsy report on Parker had not yet been released as of press time.

The Colorado Department of Human Services questioned Devereux Cleo Wallace's restraint practices in 1993, when a boy died at the company's treatment center in Westminster, Colo. The department also launched an investigation of the Colorado Springs treatment center in 1999, when restraints were used more than 30 times in one month.

However, a spokesman for the institution says no problems have been found in the course of several reviews sparked by Parker's death. Colorado Springs police, the county Department of Human Services and the Colorado Department of Human Services have all investigated the incident, said David Fletcher-Janzen, the center's administrator.

"There was no fault found with the procedures," Fletcher-Janzen said.

Terje Langeland

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