Florida District V task force, chaired by J.B. Holley, District Mental Health Specialist wrote a report of their findings on January 11, 1978 from their November 1977 – January 1978 investigation of Straight Inc. in response to community concerns about the Straight, Inc. program.
Interview with ‘Client B’
Program Dates: Prior to January 11, 1978
Exited Program Before Completion.
‘Therapeutic methods’ typically included court orders and physical and verbal abuses.
Client B told investigators that he did not go to the program of his own free will; his parents took him to Straight, Inc. and a month later he was court ordered into the program. (Author’s note: According to my recent interview with a former client, getting court ordered to the program after about a month was fairly standard practice in the early years of Straight, Inc.)
Client B said that exercise periods did not occur daily, but occurred about twice a month. He wasn’t able to attend academic classes until after he reached third phase. He felt that he was physically and verbally abused. When asked to explain he included the following:
He had money in his possession that was taken from him.
He was also grabbed by his hair by both staff and other kids in the program.
He said food was withheld from him one night and one morning in the foster home.
After he ran away from Straight, he was isolated in the clinic and in an intake room from 6:00pm – 9:30pm the first night he was back at the program and the next morning from 8:00am – 10:30am. Other kids in the program stayed at the door to watch that he stayed there.
He said that the kids were required to run fifty laps and if they couldn’t do it then they were dragged (made to run by other kids in the program holding him and forcing him to run)
He did not elaborate on the verbal abuse other than to say that both staff an other kids were involved.
He did mention that kids have to have staff permission before doing anything.
When he was asked if he felt the staff was fair he said no at first then changed it to “Yes, as long as everything goes OK.” He said he felt the staff was consistent and concerned but not really knowledgeable.
Staff was available to discuss problems when they had the time, but it was necessary to use the chain of command — If the oldcomer (kids who had been in the program longer and had advanced to at least second phase, but usually a fourth or fifth phaser and the first step in the chain of command) didn’t feel the problem was important, the request didn’t go any further.
He left the program because they were bringing people in and beating them up if they were uncooperative. He did not want any help from Straight and states that he was held against his will and that he was taken into a room and held there by other kids.
He requested to talk to me away from home as his mother was “still high on the program” and he did not want to talk in front of her.