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  1. My parents and yours seem very much a like. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s the legitimate medical community were just short of burning sage and playing drums to treat addiction. They had even less experience in treating children who were showing signs of addiction. The entire recovery industry was stumped due to lack of any real studies that focused on children.

    This lack of information was the perfect set up for places like Straight Inc. to take advantage of some very frightened parents who by then had “only” the disinformation the Nixon administration bombarded the American public with. This “tough Love” approach was and is very misguided and in my opinion more damaging to the patients then the disease its self.

  2. They fuckin KNEW this was as about as fucked up as it gets from Day ONE!!! Check out Phillip Zimbardo’s study called the Stanford Prison Experiment. They had proof that attack therapy does not work. They found that over 20% of the people in the study were permanently traumatized by this very short experiment. We are talking no longer then a week or two.


  3. Here is a really good Documentary on the The Stanford Prison Experiment

  4. Tearing up. Sorry. Springfield, VA Nov 86 to end of March 87 when I turned 18 and left with just the clothes on my back. I don’t think I can adequately explain the hell it was. The lies we were forced to tell. The abuse we endured and witnessed. Thank you.

    Cathi (Jones) Buchanan
    1. You are very welcome. The more you learn, the more bizarre it becomes. It’s amazing how many of us survived the ordeal.

      Most adolescents are assigned George Orwell’s 1984 to read in high school english class. In the 1980’s we weren’t allowed to go to school and had to live in a mini Orwellian world, one in which there were times when I thought I would be trapped in that hell forever.

      I’m thankful, we survived, but this story must be told as a precautionary tale, and because there are still so many programs like this that are still in operation.

  5. Yes, Rich. Zimbardo is the foremost expert today on the social psychology of these types of operations. We humans are so much more susceptible to being influenced by group situations than we want to acknowledge or believe.

    It would benefit all freedom-loving Americans to become familiar with one of the most underestimated and under-utilized psychological sciences currently in existence. By under-utilized, I mean one to which we, citizens, don’t pay enough attention, but should in order to remain free in our society.

    Human are much more predictable (especially in groups) than we prefer to acknowledge.

  6. I read the above and Im in a pool of tears. I have not thought about the four times I tried to kill myself right after I escaped. Talk about damn lucky. I once injected a half gram of coke and 14 bags of heroin. I woke up frozen to the grass the next afternoon.

    You know I’ve talked to about 150 survivors or more. Not one that I know of has not attempted suicide.
    HOLY….Oh my God…..I’m sorry….. I wish I had never, ever finished that building….

  7. This is so cool Kathy!! Great job! There is little information that I have read about the Hartz/Peterman regime. Man Peterman sounded just like Newton in her brutality and how she dealt with the parents. str8 barely got off the ground and the abuse imprint was put in place. Please post more about this era. Im mesmerized 🙂

  8. Marcie Moore,oddly enough,is a motivational speaker in The Tampa Bay Area.

  9. LOL! If you look at it a certain way, your 2nd question on to the last answer the first. It was a shady operation at best and couldn’t count on support from anyone outside of their own brainwashed following.

    And I have another question. When did the LEAA funding come in? I always thought it was right at the start.

    1. According to a program evaluation of Straight, Inc. specifically regarding the L.E.A.A (Law Enforcement Assistance Administration) Start-up Grant (Dated Feb., 27, 1978 – March 2, 1978) by Jack Sarmanian, A.C.S.W., Straight, Inc. received a one-year start-up grant from L.E.A.A. commencing originally on Dec. 1, 1976 through the time period of November 30, 1977. However due to administrative delays the grant was initiated in May of 1977 to April 30, 1978. (I will post more on this in the future).

  10. This is very good information for anyone doing research on Straight, Inc. and I would like to point something out about the verbatim responses from the investigative report. Number 10 under the client section says “Five (5) clients felt that they had been verbally abused, the remainders did not so feel.”

    While it is important to report the information as documented by Florida HRS, we should also acknowledge that children from abusive homes would not know the proper definition of “verbal abuse”. Their family life was already verbally abusive, so verbal abuse would seem “normal” to them. It is a phenomenon we are understanding much better today than would have been the case in 1978 when these interviews were conducted.

    I also want to thank you for posting this information as it is invaluable to anyone wanting to research Straight, Inc.

  11. Great point, James!

    I happen to agree with you. I was surprised that even five of the clients recognized the verbal abuse for what it was, especially in 1978. Of course, I suppose investigators could have provided an explanation for them, there are no details on the exact exchanges that took place between investigators and clients.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Thanks for commenting.

  12. “Come down raps”= OMR

    1. OMR = Open Meeting Reviews
      I thought that was probably the case too Rich.
      We’ll know for sure when I finish my interviewing.
      Thanks for your comments!

  13. I, too, was tortured, abused and “brainwashed” in this psudo-therapy cult called Straight Inc. Not only have I suffered from anxiety, night terrors, and suicidal thoughts, but currently have trauma, depression and C-PTSD. This doesn’t include the permanent, physical damage I sustained from my imprisonment in Straight Inc.

    34 years later and I’m still suffering.

    1. Thanks for your comment Sunny. I’m sorry you had to suffer as a teen and are still suffering the effects today. It’s important to shine the light on this multi-billion dollar Teen Program Industry as this kind of thing is still going on in companies owned and operated by U.S. citizens today. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

  14. This was very enlightening. I, too, experienced many similar things . Also, I found it interesting that the mother knew some of what was happening . For some reason I think I do remember a straitjacket during my time from ’82-84.

  15. I grew up in St. Petersburg, FL, graduated from high school in 1975. Many of my classmates went to the Seed.

    1. Great! I plan to end this History of Straight Inc. with ‘where it came from’ and as you know it came from the Seed. I will be covering it in depth at the end.

  16. You’re brave, Kathy! I would’ve approached it completely differently: kept it to myself until it had a proof writer. I wouldn’t want any one to criticize my writing…..gee, wonder where I get the fear of being judged?

    I admire your tenacity, hard work, dedication and openness. Thank you for including us in your process!

    1. Thanks so much, Sunny.

      These types of comments are exactly what keep me going.

      I’m making typos and other writing mistakes like crazy, and sometimes I don’t find them until after I publish the post. Sometimes a kind reader points them out or even makes a great suggestion!

      It’s a lot easier to correct the mistakes online than in a print version.

      Eventually all of these facts and documents will have personal narratives woven through them and the end result will become the great quilt of Our Story.

      It is going to take some time and patience, but it will happen, one way or another. You have my word and solemn promise.

  17. So was this just for show? All these things were rampant in ’82. Yes, I had to sign myself in but I was told unless I did my parents wouldn’t let me go home and I’ll be stranded . None of the rest were implemented, were they? Was some one paid off?

    1. Great questions Sunny! It does seem suspect that these things were present for the entire time that The Seed and Straight, Inc., and all of its offspring were (and in a couple of cases still are) in existence. I hope that the more of the story you become familiar with, the more you will be able to determine why this was allowed to continue unfettered. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  18. Thank you for shining the light on these rats.

  19. Man listening to this cult propaganda film brings back huge amounts of memories. Its laughable really. If those cameras were not there and it was just us and the staff this kid Barry would already been restrained on the floor. 5 kids … one for each arm and leg one or two depending on size covering the chest and head. I can hear the muffled cry’s for help as they controlled how much they could breath. OMFG!!! I remember sitting in group praying I did not get called on to restrain kids. Yeah the most fucked up part for me was that I was called on to basically torture oter kids in there in order to move ahead. I would have done what ever it took not to face DAY ONE SEAT ONE again. The staff knew this and exploited our primal fears.

  20. Oh my god, Kathy! That is a horrible story that I already knew a little. So beautifully told. So beautifully told!

  21. My anniversary is around Easter. I remember the date I ran away, and I was put into a TTF (not Straight) a week later. I remember asking to get a Cadbury egg on the way to what I thought was a doctor visit
    and being told that we were running late but could stop and get one on the way back. Well, of course, there was no way back, not for over a year, and Cadbury eggs were out of season when I did get out.

    For many years after that, I bought myself a Cadbury egg, even though I decided they weren’t very good. It was a way of celebrating that I had control over my own life. I haven’t felt the need to do that in a while, but I do sometimes have a hard time around Easter. Maybe, I should start, again.

  22. My day of intake to Straight Inc was January 21st 1978.

    I begin getting froggy around Janissary 1st, intruding thoughts, nightmares, anxiety, defensiveness and hyper-vigilance slowly increase. Then by the 21st, I it tends to be anti-climactic as I tend to go emotionally numb. And the following 6-8 weeks….there is a generalized funk, an emotional hangover. So yeah, for well over a month, I am effected by a date.

    1. Sounds like PTSD. Is there anything you do to help you deal with the PTSD?

  23. Tears flowing as I read , remembering more of what I buried deep inside. The endless mind games they forced on us to play out on each other . We were truly alone each of us to ourselves, no love, no hope, no trust , nothing but empty shells, child robots playing one against the other , alone

    1. Yes! Exactly! The mind games were pretty rough, especially for adolescents trying to establish their identities, as if going through normal adolescence wasn’t tough enough. It was a weird time. I’m always glad to hear from another survivor not all of us were that lucky. Thanks for commenting Lori.

  24. Reading your accounts of the beginning of your nightmare , I thought you were me, so now I believe it was the norm for our parents to say we were going to see a family counsler , but to a building so far from our home, without any signs telling me where I was. My parents were acting so strange all the way there , at one point my mother messed up and said something about a suitcase she had in the trunk of the car. My head was searching for answers to what is really going on. You know that gut feeling you get, that’s what I had. I also had moved recently from out of stat, started a new school was trying to make friends. Funny about the car thing because me and my friend did the same thing with her brothers car, but lucky it was her dad who found us at a gas station . Thank you for sharing.

  25. What a great insight! I don’t remember the exact date of my intake. It was different for me because my family had been in the Seed for years. So it wasn’t an abrupt beginning of anything; it wasn’t even a surprise.

    But I do have similar reactions to every anniversary one can imagine. Every birthday, every holiday every commemorative date that we observe is about reeling in past anniversaries. And, for me, every one is tainted by memories of that day as “celebrated” in the program and of all of the missing family in the 40 years since my family became a Seed family.

    So I do my best to really avoid celebrating or observing anything on those days when others are so involved in their untainted observance. The important ones, like family birthdays, Mothers’ Day and so forth, I use my divorced status as cover to have our own little shindig with my close friends and kids on another day, maybe the week after or so.

  26. In 2012, Shane’s first attorney, Gary Udashen, contacted me to learn more about Straight. He explained Shane’s case and informed me that the DNA evidence seemed to implicate someone else. Mr. Udashen said that Shane’s arrest was based on the testimony of former clients from Straight. He described Shane’s account of the events at Straight but said he was having trouble believing them because he had never heard of a program like Straight. He asked if I thought Shane’s story sounded plausible, and to me, Shane’s account was very believable – it was very easy to see how Shane could have been wrongly convicted, and that was before I had heard details about the way the prosecutors handled the case.

    Mr. Udashen said Shane was one of the victim’s friends and was originally one of many suspects in the case during the mid-1980s simply because he knew her personally. Shane had been court-ordered to Straight for unrelated issues, sometime after she was murdered. Police investigators came to Straight to question Shane about the murder and after their interview, they removed him from the suspect list and he went back to group.

    Mr. Udashen’s understanding was that Straight staff then told Shane that if he did not confess to the murder as a “past incident,” he would not be allowed to progress through the program. They also promised him that his confession would not be reported to the police. Shane eventually confessed, staff did not report the confession to the police, the murder confession simply became part of his “druggie-past,” Shane went on up through his phases and graduated from the program.

    He married, had kids, and went about living a healthy adult life with his family. Twenty-some years later, Ginger Hayden’s murder case was reopened and a former group member from the Dallas Straight program saw a TV news report about it. She called the police and reported the group-confession Shane made in Straight. State prosecutors then located an inmate in a Texas prison who was also in Straight with Shane. They arranged a plea deal with him and he testified against Shane in exchange for a lighter sentence. These testimonies were the evidence used in his conviction.

    From what I understand, there is very convincing new evidence that seems to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Shane is innocent. I believe that when this evidence is presented in court, it will lead to his exoneration.

    What seems most questionable, even by Straight standards, is that executive staff members would have hid a genuine murder confession from the authorities. Was it just a typical teenage phaser-turned-staff member who pushed for the confession? Were the executives aware of the confession?

    Some Straightlings who were in group with Shane and heard the confession, like those who reported him to the police, seem to be convinced that he really did it, but they have not had a chance to review all of the evidence.

    Considering that Shane was a court-ordered client, I assume all of the Dallas Straight staff would have been acting illegally to harbor a ward of the state who confessed to murderer. The simplest explanation might be that they knew they had coerced the story and assumed it was a fictional account, like so many other confessions in the program. If staff had reason to assume it was fictional, it’s easier to see why they wouldn’t have bothered to report it to the authorities.

    1. Straight, Inc. really damaged some of the people it claimed to help. With your additional information about this case, I’m more convinced than I already was of Shane’s innocence. I sure hope people send Shane’s attorney information they know about how prevalent the coercion was within the four walls of each and every location of the Straight, Inc. program. This situation could have happened to anyone enrolled in that program. Thanks Marcus!

  27. Thanks for the background info, Marcus. I didn’t know all of that and now I’m even more sure that this is a false conviction. Imagine recovering from Straight, building a whole new life and family and then, 30 years later, being dragged back into the program, away from kids, grand-kids, everything… only this time it’s for life.

    I just heard back from Jim Drummond. He said he received my affidavit, but it’s the only one so far. I literally had to wait a week for some work to come through before I had the $5 notary fee and postage to mail it.

    Please, folks, it’s such a little thing. Even if he doesn’t win his appeal it could mean SO much for him to know that some of us out here give a tiny fuck about the injustice done to him in the name of treatment.

    1. I am Shane’s AZ Mom.
      I have talked to Shane just about every day for the last 6 years. I am his little girl’s Grandma and have been her caregiver much of the time since his arrest, when she was 18 months old. Her Mommy worked and then the stress of the trial and his wrongful conviction took its toll and almost destroyed our daughter.

      Shane’s little girl is precious to us and she loves her Daddy. We visit him every 2 to 3 months in Huntsville and she knows the routine of the prison. She continues to sit on his lap for 4 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday talking and playing games like tic tac toe with skittles on a paper towel when there are no crayons and paper, coloring when they have crayons available,and sharing junk food from the vending machines. Ryley poses with him for a picture on special days and dances on his feet before they sit down (no standing up on his side of the table) and loves to sing to him. She is now 7 years old and reads to him from a few books they have and telling him riddles and facts she has learned from ABC She is well liked by her classmates, likes to play with Legos, likes our dog, Josie, and swims well.

      Shane’s son is now 21 years old, works hard and is a great brother. Shane’s daughter is 22, married to a Navy man and has a precious little girl who spent the first 5 months of her life in the NICU. His daughter is the best of Mommies! We send Shane pictures of his Granddaughter and tease him about being a Grandpa.

      I am a Forensic Nurse and my husband is a retired police officer and businessman. We attended Shane’s trial and can tell you without a doubt that he was not well represented even though the attorney was highly-rated and well paid by our standards. The trial took 4 days and the defense portion took 2 hours. One ill prepared defense witness (not her fault she was not prepared ) and 2 of the prosecution’s witnesses were called by the defense with summation limited to 20 minutes. The jury got the case at about 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon. We hired Mr Drummond for the appeal process

      I tell you these things so you might know the affect’s this ordeal has had on our lives. It has been a painful yet Spiritual journey. Days of hopelessness and hope! Whenever you watch Dateline remember there are two sides to every story.

      1. I am so glad you posted this here Lori. It is always great to hear the other side. If anyone should understand there is always another side of the media reports, those who have been involved in Straight, Inc. and those involved in any other program should and probably do. This could have happened to any one of us. Let’s get our letters written to this attorney!

  28. Kathy I remember when that happened. I know when folks were in group they could make themselves cry on demand. That day the tears in my eyes were real. Sorry to say that that event was why I never forgot you all those years. Thank you for all you are doing.

  29. There is a lot more to this story that was not even mentioned in the trial. For example, there is evidence in the file that Some Other Dude Did It (SODDI). Our first attorney decided it might confuse the jury if he drifted from his original theory of a Serial Killer and brought up the fact that another person actually sat in front of the apartment where the victim lived, with a detective and told him how he broke into the apartment (details) and stole a jar of coins. No burglaries were reported for the time frame and for 3 years prior. A shoe print that did not match Shane’s size even and we won’t even go into the problems with the DNA evidence.
    I am convinced and have always been convinced Shane did not do this thing.
    Thanks for listening,

    1. Lori,
      I can’t tell you how much it means to me personally to have a chance to take some meaningful action to undo some of the harm done. I’m so glad you have reached out to us here.

      Kathy, you are pulling off something really wonderful here.


  30. Thanks for putting this together, Kathy. I’ve spent an hour, or two, perusing….Your efforts are appreciated. Jeff

    1. You are welcome!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. There is more to come.

  31. Thanks Kathy. He is taking it pretty hard but he has a deep faith . I keep praying for a miracle

    1. I sure hope there is more that can be done to persue his freedom. It amazes me how far reaching Straight, Inc.’s arms are and how it’s still wreaking havoc today. I will also continue to hold out hope for a small miracle of justice to come Shane’s way.

  32. I remember this very well, Kathy. And then you DID indeed get into trouble after the funeral. It was a never ending fear being in that place and wondering if your whole “program” would be “started over” because of nothing you did, but from a simple look from a staff member in the line or saying something…anything that someone questioned.

    Kim (Dorsey) Muehlbauer
    1. Yes, so much was based on the whims of other kid-staff members in the program. It was certainly a ‘Lord of the Flies’ kind of atmosphere. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kim

  33. “I finally assimilated to this tiny alternative society that was within but separate from the larger “normal” community outside of the warehouse walls.”

    God Damn, Kathy! Just God Damn!

    Thank you, Rich, for the timely bump. Now I gots some reading to do before my daily stroll. Did I tell ya’ll that I’m a happy as hell house frau again? Dog is good all the time!

    1. Thanks for your comments Ginger. So glad things are going well for you.

  34. So sorry you went through this!!! I can’t even imagine how you must have felt. I hate the way that place was. Again sorry 😐

  35. Hi Kathy, I just awoke less than a month ago to the reality of what we went through. I remember you in Springfield. I’m really grateful to find you and others that see how bad it was. It makes me feel not so alone. Thanks. Brenda Kanter Pokorny

    1. Hi Brenda,
      I remember you as well, and I am glad you found us too . You are definitely not alone.
      Kind regards,

  36. What a load of manure !! I know precisely who Mr White Shoes is!! anyone there in 1984-85 would too !!

    1. Thanks for commenting Nancy. I never knew “Mr. Whiteshoes,” what was your take on him? Your comment almost makes it sound like he may have gone on to become a staff member, is that what happened?

  37. An afterthought: Why would a parent have to write out three different checks all made out to Straight, Inc.?

  38. As far as I’m aware of and what my mom told me is that she paid between $7k-8k the day I went in. My dad had died and she became quite wealthy overnight. She did not BS about money so I believed her. I got the impression that at the time the kids from either wealthy parents or who were court ordered tended to be held at phases longer. I didn’t escape until I was close enough to my 18th birthday that it would’ve been a pain in her ass and not enough to have her go thru the judicial system. She was a paralegal for a big firm and I just know how she thinks. She definitely had the ways and means to keep me there indefinitely. The kicker is that it turns out she paid Straight, Inc. with my inheritance money. I PAID FOR MY OWN YEAR LONG MIND RAPE! I should’ve had just under $40k when I turned 18. There was only $10k. Sorry, had to tell you backstory. I’m curious as to what other parents paid though, and if my mom may have been full of BS and just took my money. She did a lot of traveling with her new man and months would go by at a time before I would see her. Non-profit my a$$!

    1. I’m curious as to how much was charged over the years and in various locations too.
      Which year and location was this?

  39. In the old days, the “fee” was $500 total. Plus support by parents for newcomers who stayed with us. Group meal contributions. And open meeting donations.

    1. Thanks!
      So far we have:

      – ‘Old days’ (circa 1976-1977) approx $500+ for one kid in St. Petersburg, Florida
      – mid 1982 approx $2000+ for one kid in St. Petersburg, Florida
      – late 1983 approx $4700+ for one kid in Springfield, Virginia
      and $7000-8000+ in (year? location?)

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