Skip to content

Tag: Straight Inc

September, 1982 Straight Talk Newsletter

September 1982 St. Petersburg Florida Straight Newsletter Highlights:

Heroine of the month: Single Straight Parent, Barbara,

An Open Letter from:  A 7 Stepper Parent,

New Fundraiser: A Straight Cookbook for Christmas,

Newspaper Clippings (propaganda): 

  • Drug Program to Open Facility In Washington;
  • Marijuana plants dying after being sprayed with paraquat;
  • President Reagan Declares Battle Against Drugs.

Take a look inside the September 1982 Straight Talk Newsletter Below:

[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”1982-09 Straight Talk Newsletter001_redacted”]

Leave a Comment

Memorial Day, 2017

History of Memorial Day

Let’s take a look at the holiday marking the official beginning of summer and America’s most solemn occasion.
(Source: History of Memorial Day – The History Channel)

America’s most solemn holiday — A day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending their nation.

During the Civil War 600,000 soldiers were killed. Mourners in both the North and South began placing flags and flowers on graves of fallen soldiers. On May 5, 1866, Waterloo New York’s citizens closed their shops and businesses so that everyone could decorate the graves of the men killed during the war.

An old war general and leader of the Union Veteran Association, John A. Logan, spearheaded an effort to unite all the decoration services into one national holiday, designating May 30th as Decoration Day.

2017- Virginia Confederate Veteran’s Decorated Grave  (Click on image to see  details.)

Decoration Day grew throughout the 19th century and by the end of the century was renamed Memorial Day. By the end of World War I, May 30th became a day to honor all soldiers who died in battle as far back as the revolutionary war.

The first unknown soldier was interred in Arlington Cemetery on Armistice day in 1921. Every Memorial day unknown soldiers are honored in a wreath-laying ceremony conducted by the President or Vice President of the USA. They are reminders of all of those who never made it home. Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, and Congress shifted it from May 30th to the 4th Monday in May.

All across America, veterans and civilians still gather in parades and vigils to remember the generations who gave their lives for their nation’s freedom.

Source: History Channel – The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day – 35 years ago and today

behavior modification, straight inc, seed inc.
Report that states that the Seed, Inc. (a.k.a. Straight, Inc.) uses highly refined “brainwashing” techniques used by the Koreans in the early 1950s

How fitting, in my view, that 35 years ago today on Memorial day weekend, I was unexpectedly (and unjustly) thrown into Straight, Inc. This life experience was what initially taught me what “freedom and justice for all” truly were when both were promptly ripped away from me. Had my father, who was a Korean War veteran, lived through the Straight, Inc experience, he would be mortified to learn what actually went on behind closed doors in this program. I am confident that he would be horrified that he risked his life in the Korean Conflict, only to have his child subjected to the same tactics used on the American Prisoners of War in Korea.

It saddens me that young men, like Sean Cutsforth (one of my son’s peers), who are still giving their lives for this country’s freedom are being dishonored by businessmen like Mel Sembler (commercial real estate capitalist and Straight, Inc. co-founder), who abuse their freedom to advance their own interests.

My dream is to one day have the United States of America show its appreciation and honor for all of the fallen soldiers who have fought for freedom and liberty, by allowing freedom and justice to be equal for all USA citizens regardless of the amount of money they have in their bank account.

Memorial Day – a day to recognize PTSDPTSD

For all of the soldiers that gave their lives, there are also soldiers who survived their ordeal and came back home broken from their experiences. Some of these soldiers have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many civilians who have been exposed to traumatic events also suffer from PTSD.

Often people who suffer from PTSD experience anniversary reactions, which you can read about here.

It is important that more scientific research is conducted in pursuance of knowledge about how to best recognize, understand and treat PTSD.

Project Straight Ink hopes to dedicate a portion of this website to the latest studies in PTSD, to help all Americans who have suffered from PTSD

Memorial Day – the Unofficial Start of Summer

arlington national cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

As stated on the history channel video, “On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the Memorial Day holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.”

Some people get angry that the meaning of Memorial Day seems to be growing distant with more focus being on the unofficial start of summer. I think parties and barbecues are a wonderful way to celebrate the freedoms we have, as long as we first remember what freedom is, what it costs and to remember those who have paid with their lives to preserve the freedoms we still have.

Leave a Comment

2017 Update on Shane Absalon

Update on Shane Absalon’s Murder Conviction Appeal.

In July of 2016, I was contacted by Jim Drummond, attorney for Shane Absalon, regarding the appeal of a murder conviction.

I wrote some of what I learned from Mr. Drummond about Shane Absalon’s case in a previous blog post called, A 1986 confession in Straight, Inc., leads a murder conviction in 2012.

A quick summary of the case is as follows:

Shane Absalon was court ordered to the Dallas-Ft.Worth Straight, Inc. as a condition of probation for a charge of criminal mischief in July of 1986. During his time at Straight, Shane was coerced by staff to admit responsibility for a murder commited in 1984, even though the police had eliminated him as a suspect.

23 years later, in 2009, after seeing a news report about the cold case, others who sat in Straight, Inc. with Shane, including his oldcomer, decided to come forward to report they heard him confess to the murder in a group confrontation.

There were very few clients in Straight who weren’t coerced to confess to things they didn’t do in the interest of appearing to “get honest,”  by admitting to all the supposed awful things they did before the program, in hopes of someday getting out of that program/hell-hole. 

Photo by Lori Rutherford This is Shane & Ryley, his daughter, in 2009, about 9 months before his arrest.


I recently heard from Mr. Drummond. He thanked for supporting Shane but regretted to report that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has denied the state habeas corpus application for a new trial.

In turn, I would like to thank all of my readers who responded to Mr. Drummond’s request for affidavits about the coercive forces that were prevalent in the Straight, Inc. program.

Straight, Inc. is still tearing families apart in 2017. Above is a photo of Shane with his daughter Ryley in 2009, about nine months before his arrest. Shane had put his Straight, Inc. experience behind him and began to live a normal life. He was gainfully employed, married and had started a family when he was “reported” by his fellow Straightlings one final time.

For more information about Shane and how to contact him see this blog post: Time to spread holiday cheer.


The Seeds of Resilience

Learning from the past, and seeds of resilience.

//Resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences, according to the American Psychological Association as stated in their guide, The Road to Resilience.

One of the steps on the road to resilience, as stated in the guide mentioned above, is learning from your past.  We must examine the past to learn from it. In part, provides information to help those who have had experiences in abusive and fraudulent treatment programs review the past and learn what happened, how and why these things were ever allowed to happen, and how and why survivors reacted as they did. In turn, survivors will discover what they have been through and decide how to use these insights in a positive manner in the future.

[bctt tweet=”It’s definitely necessary to go back and reinterpret past events to find the strengths you have” username=”projstraightink”]

Reasons to review the past

Another reason to review our past experiences in bogus treatment programs is to investigate how these programs were legally allowed to exist back then and how they continue to exist without suffering any legal consequences despite repeated complaints and probes into these businesses. (Straight, Inc. opened its doors for business September of 1976, by November of 1977 a formal inestigation was being conducted due to complaints, yet the continued to freely operate for decades before changing their name and opening new spin off programs–some of which are still in operation today.)

Even if no one figures out how to prevent these harmful businesses from hanging their shingles, at the very least, we hope to educate the parents of today and of the future about the dangers of entrusting your child to a program without first researching its background history and credentials.

Yet another aim of this site is to be a resource of information that may help survivors move beyond understanding their past experiences to cultivate that knowledge into new strengths and insights.

[bctt tweet=”Some people not only bounce back but succeed in unimagined ways” username=”projstraightink”]

Sheryl Sandberg’s, (Facebook COO) speaks about resilience in her 2016 commencement speech to UC Berkeley

“The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events of our lives.” ~Sheryl Sandberg


“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It’s a muscle. You can build it up, and then draw on it when you need it. In that process, you figure out who you really are and you just might become the very best version of yourself.” ~Sheryl Sandberg

More Resources on Resilience:

The American Psychological Association has several resources about resilience at this link.

Psychology Today Magazine also carries several articles about resilience.

Here is a great example of a survivor resilience: Laura Faehner Reed’s story.


Do you have a story of resilience? 

What are you grateful for?

Please let us read it in the comments below.


Leave a Comment

An Answer to the Question: Why revisit the past?

May 11th, 1983 — 34 years later, May 11, 2017

“Why drudge up the past?” “Move on.” “Get over it.”

That’s what some people say in response to addressing the story of Straight, Inc. and other businesses pretending to be legitimate treatment programs. I understand where they are coming from when they say this, but they fail to understand that examining the past doesn’t mean you haven’t ‘moved on’ or ‘gotten over it.’ Conversely, forgetting the past doesn’t mean you have ‘gotten over it,’ or ‘moved on.’ 

It seems that the people who ask this question should review the reasons government-sponsored (a.k.a. public) schools, as well as private schools specifically, require history classes throughout a student’s educational career.

The explicit purpose of ‘drudging up the past,’ is to learn from it. We learn to avoid repeating the mistakes that were previously made, and we review what went into past successes to relay that knowledge to future generations.

You don’t forget a parent just because they passed away.

Straight, Inc., the ‘not-for-profit’ business that was posturing as a treatment center, permanently changed me and the trajectory of my life. When I walked into that building, I entered a world more depraved than I had ever been exposed to previously. That day May 29, 1982, marked the end of my childhood.

[pullquote]You don’t just get over it. You grieve, then you learn to accept your new reality and go about life accordingly.[/pullquote]Only a few weeks less than a year later, on May 11, 1983, (when I was still in the supposed 6-month long program) an exclamation point was added to the end of my childhood, as that was the day my father died. (Read more about that day here) I was still in the program during this time, and you don’t just forget a parent because they passed on. You don’t just get over it. You grieve, then you learn to accept your new reality and go about life accordingly. This is exactly what I did, both in response to my experience in Straight, Inc. and in response to my father’s death.

While Straight, Inc. didn’t directly cause my father’s death, it undoubtedly hastened its occurrence. The various circumstances in which the program put my father, and the incredible amounts of unnecessary stress this program caused him, without a doubt accelerated his journey to the grave. Straight, Inc., without due process and without a valid reason, stole the last year of my father’s life both from him and me. Do I harbor resentments? No, that wouldn’t be beneficial to me or anyone. Nevertheless, I do not wish for anyone else to be subjected to similar experiences.

Though the story doesn’t just end there. Every phase of my life has been affected by this program in various ways, even after leaving the program permanently in 1985. The ways in which my life was affected are too numerous to recount in this blog post. But suffice to say the program, and its connections even ended up playing a part in my mother’s death (January 09, 2012), though I didn’t discover this until a couple of years later. (This story will be told another time.)

We remember in order to learn from past mistakes and do better in the future.

You see, for some people (perhaps, most?), Straight’s effects never actually disappeared, they just hibernate until a significant event takes place in a person’s life. That person, in this case, me, may not even immediately realize the “straight-effect” is taking place, but that doesn’t stop it from occurring.

So to answer the “Why remember?” question about the Straight, Inc. experience, I have to say the most important reason to remember is to learn from what happened inside that dreadful place, to record what I have learned, and to teach future generations how to avoid making the same mistakes.

NOTE: (Also notice the “in lieu of flowers” blurb on the obituaries. This was printed in two papers in two states, and became a part of my permanent history. Just another reason to address this issue. )

In loving memory of my father.

In memory of William T. Barry (April 30, 1929 – May 11, 1983)

Washington Post – May 14, 1983

straight death donations
New York Newspaper – May 14, 1983 (below)   straight death donations

Tell us what you think about bringing this subject to the public’s attention.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below this post.

Leave a Comment

First Conference in 2001 regarding Harmful Treatment Programs

An Idea for a Conference About Harmful Treatment Programs was born in 2000.

In 2000, I decided to hit the internet to search for information about a place called Straight, Inc. It was a program that my parents got me involved in and in which I was effectively cut off from the real world for about two and a half years. A lot of insane and illegal things took place in this program, and I wanted to know more about how this program was not only allowed to exist but also was endorsed by highly regarded physicians, politicians, and other dignitaries. In fact, Nancy Reagan started her “Just Say No” campaign with the influence of some of Straight, Inc.’s most notorious founders. (I will add supporting evidence for this statement at a future date)

Early Websites about Straight, Inc. and Harmful Treatment

There was virtually nothing online regarding this place. After several days of searching, I came across Scott Wagner’s website* and realized there were other “former students’ thinking along the same lines as I was. This encouraged me to see if I could uncover anything else about those crazy Straight, Inc. years.

(*These links will take you to the internet archive. This is to give you an idea of what the websites were like then, but when I found the websites they looked different as they didn’t contain nearly the amount of information shown on the archive pages.)


Eventually, I found Anonymity Anonymous*, created by Ginger Warbis. I ended up having many long conversations with both Ginger (now Ginger McNulty) and Wesley Fager.

The three of us compared notes about our personal experiences within the Straight, Inc. program and we shared research we had been doing independently up to that point.

Arnold Trebach on Harmful Treatment Programs

Dr. Arnold Trebach & Kathy (Martin) Moya @ conference planning meeting.

During my research, I came across an article that truly surprised me. Moral Integrity and Presidential Appointees: The Straight Skinny, by Arnold S. Trebach. This article mentioned Straight, Inc. by name, a person who had been in Straight, Inc. with me, and one of the founders of Straight, Inc.

The article I found on a website called The Trebach Report, described Trebach’s experience at a major international conference in Melbourne, Australia in 1989. He tells of his shock when he heard the American ambassador to Australia brag that he and his wife had formed a drug treatment organization called Straight in Florida. In this article, he also tells of his conversation with a top Dutch drug policy official who said, “Oh yes, I know about the program, Hitler Jungen!”

After reading this article, I immediately called Wes. I wanted to do more to bring the Straight, Inc. phenomenon to light. Eventually, Wes and I met with Arnold Trebach, and the first conference on this topic was born.

Saving Our Children from Drug Treatment Abuse Conference, July 21-22, 2001

Here are the first couple of introductory paragraphs in the conference agenda folder:

The major purpose of this conference is to re-examine the destructive role that certain highly approved treatment programs have had on the children they were supposed to help. Thus we are turning conventional logic on its head and purposely coining a new phrase, drug treatment abuse. There are good reasons for doing so.

In this conference, we will review the record of the harmful impact that these treatment programs have had on their young inmates. Discuss methods to close these destructive institutions,  examine the reasons why these programs have received such high-level support, and suggest better, more effective methods for helping children with problems of all kinds. In addition, we will seek to provide guidance to those children already harmed by these programs so that they may obtain redress or compensation in a court of justice either through civil lawsuits, filing criminal complaints or both.

The idea for this conference originated with  Kathy Martin,** one of the survivors of  Straight, Inc., a controversial youth treatment program that has garnered endorsements of presidents and top addiction physicians along with widespread condemnation by former clients, government officials, and adverse court judgments.

That original idea has been broadened in scope and participants. The Trebach Institute has agreed to take a leading role in developing the conference as well as in creating a project that will carry this effort into the future beyond the conference.   Survivors of numerous programs similar to Straight, Inc. have come forward asking to be involved in this multi-faceted effort. While some of these programs bear remarkable similarities to Straight. Inc., others have their own brand of destructive treatment.   Moreover, all of them seem to have zealous supporters as well as equally zealous critics.  We welcome them all to this open conference. (The full write-up can be found here.)

** Now known as Kathy Moya

Video Clips from the Conference

Jim Turney of Liberty Tapes attended and videotaped the entire conference.  I bought the entire set of tapes and have obtained Jim Turney’s permission to publish clips from that conference. Here are a few introductory clips from the 2001 Conference in Bethesda, Maryland. More clips will be available at a future date when I obtain more funds to digitize the rest of the VHS tapes. ***(Feel free to donate through Paypal – the link is in the sidebar. Thanks!)***


Kathy Moya, 2001 Conference 


Wes Fager, 2001 Conference 

Dr. Arnold Trebach, 2001 Conference

Please remember to leave your comments below!

Books by Arnold Trebach

In each of these books, Trebach devotes entire sections to the Straight, Inc. program.

The Great Drug War: And Rational Proposals To Turn The Tide





Fatal Distraction: The War On Drugs In The Age Of Islamic Terror


Imagine it’s 1985 – You’re in Group in Straight, Inc.

 Imagine:  It’s 1985. You suddenly find yourself as a teenager in Group, in Straight, Inc.

Nov. 11, 1985 – Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana approaching the Straight, Inc Building in Springfield, VA

Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana are scheduled to make an appearance at Straight, Inc. which makes things even more confusing now. Straight, Inc.’s day to day operations are carried out by kids and you notice the similarity between the way this group operates and that novel you read in your English class The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. You think, “The way things are done here just can’t be legal, but now Nancy Reagan and Princess Di are visiting. Why and how can this be?” Oh well, you decide it doesn’t really matter how and why since there is no way to find the answers. Besides, it is kind of exciting to have such well-known world figures visiting. Where else would you get an opportunity to see them up-close like this? Suddenly you feel like you must be part of something important, so you ignore the fact that so-called-misbehavers are ‘hidden away’ during the visit and you welcome the diversion from the mind-numbing daily routines.

The Pilgrimage of Hope: Straight Inc. 1985

This video contains promotional coverage of Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana’s visit to Straight, Inc. It shows an abbreviated open meeting put on especially for the dignitaries. Even though it is only a brief example of what the real open meetings were like, it’s enough to give you an idea of the kind of show these kids had to put on each week for their parents and the public during these meetings. Open Meetings bore no resemblance of the so-called ‘therapy’ that took place when no adults were present.

Following the Pilgrimage of Hope video, is a clip from the made-for-television special Not My Kidbased on the Straight, Inc. program and the book Not My Kid, written by former “national clinical director” of Straight, Inc., Miller Newton.

Former Straight, Inc. Student who became an Executive Staff Member, Richard Mullinax Tells All

Richard Mullinax was just a scared young teenager when I first saw him as he was introduced to ‘The Group” in 1983. He escaped from the Straight, Inc. program several times before eventually returning to the group, successfully graduating the program, then becoming a regular staff member. During a majority of Straight, Inc’s existence only adults served as executive staff members (and usually didn’t partake in daily sessions, but were only there when the parents and members of the community came to ‘visit’), but Rich was one of the rare former students that eventually went on to become an Executive Staff Member as well. He worked as a staff member in numerous Straight, Inc. locations and was familiar with probably more former students of Straight Inc. than anyone else who was ever involved.

In 2006, a letter was crafted to Nancy Reagan, President George Bush, Sr., Former Straight, Inc. Executives & Other Responsible Parties on behalf of Survivors of Straight Inc. In 2008, Rich Mullinax became the only person to respond to the Straight, Inc. Survivors’ Letter Requesting Acknowledgment and an Apology. (You can read the Survivors’ request and Mullinax’s reply at this link.) Mr. Mullinax seemed to agonize over his participation as staff in this program but was brave enough to put his apology in writing and publish it on the Internet. His courageous act provided relief and validation to many who survived their ordeal in this program.

Honoring Rich Mullinax’s Request

On April 4, 2000, I created my first website named Straight, Inc Survivors and I have had various websites dedicated to this topic since then. There have been times when life has called me away from this project (while I was raising my family) and there were some lapses in my coverage of the topic. During one of these periods of time, Chris Flannery decided to make a static site where she could post related documents permanently. This is what led to the creation of her site Surviving Straight Inc. I’m forever grateful that she was able to do this because when Rich emailed his apology to Ms. Flannery, he also sent me a copy asking me to post it on my website along with this video. However, soon after I posted Rich’s apology, I had to take a break from my advocacy work and go tend to life. Thank goodness, Chris Flannery continued to keep her website available allowing Rich Mullinax to publish his apology, which seemed to mean so much to so many.


rip rich (2)With Cyndy Etler’s recent book launch about her Straight, Inc. experiences (The Dead Inside: A true story) and the recent passing of Rich Mullinax, a kind soul, former Straight, Inc. student, executive staff member and most recently, advocate for former Straight, Inc. clients, it seems like the right time to to pick up where I left off, and finally, honor Rich’s request. This video contains promotional coverage of Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana’s visit to Straight, Inc… Following the Pilgrimage of Hope video is a clip from the made-for-television special Not My Kidbased on the Straight, Inc. program and the book Not My Kid, written by former “national clinical director” of Straight, Inc., Miller Newton. I am publishing this video not only to honor Rich’s request but also for posterity; as part of a history lesson for future generations.

The reasons we record events in history, and the reasons we study recorded historical events.

Remember when you finally realized that the reason we take history classes in school was so that we could learn from the past? We are to repeat the things that have been successful and hopefully avoid repeating historical events that turned out to be disastrous and just plain wrong?

Well, consider this just another part of an important piece of our social history that we must begin to learn from, lest we continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Even if these events never makes mainstream history books, they should at least be recorded as a part of the Study of the History of Psychology (as lessons about not only what doesn’t work for so-called troubled teens or troubled families, but also how harmful non-scientific based therapies can be.)

History has already repeated itself and will continue until we pay attention.

Watching that clip from the Not My Kid television special reminded me of another similar promotional television show from approximately 1972 called A Seed of Hope.  

Think about it:

  • Seed Inc. was founded in 1970,  and a couple of years later had a promotional television show created called A Seed of Hope.
  • The Seed program was run out of St. Petersburg, Florida in 1975 due to claims of abuse.
  • One year later in 1976, a group of former Seed, Inc. families got together to form and open the business called Straight, Inc.
  • Within a few months after opening for business an investigation found rampant abuses in the Straight Inc. Program.
  • Straight, Inc. created a promotional video called A Pilgrimage of Hope.
  • Straight, Inc.’s treatment program was eventually shut down due to numerous lawsuits of abuse. (Although, Straight, Inc. still operates as a “drug abuse education” non-profit corp now called Drug Free America Foundation.)
  • But Straight Inc.’s idea of ‘treatment’ lives on through its spin-off programs. There are many more programs that were born out of Straight, Inc. but that will have to be addressed in another post. Suffice to say history has, does and will continue to repeat itself until attention is brought to the reasons why something should not be repeated.
  • The main takeaway is that Straight, Inc. was a pseudo-psycho-junk-science-based treatment center, founded by troubled families who had been through another non-evidence-based treatment center. These families (with no formal education in the treatment of adolescents) seemed to think it was a good idea to open up a program of their own and have their own children run it, and the abuse cycle not only continued but grew worse with time.

Where were you in 1985? What are your memories about 1985 and Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana?  Please share your memories below in the comments.


Welcome to Project Straight Ink 2017

Project Straight, 2017.

Welcome to an updated and more stable Project Straight Ink website.  We are going to kick off 2017 with a post that directly relates to the purpose of this site.

Project Straight Ink promotes discussion of critical thinking about psychological, medical, and spiritual information available to the public through popular media.

My interest in helping people identify the difference between scientific-evidence-based health information from non-evidence-based information came from two places. The first was my personal experience in a non-evidence based treatment center and the second was from my education in learning how and why places like this exist.

More specifically, one of my psychology professors introduced me to a book, How to Think Straight About Psychology,  by Keith E. Stanovich, Professor Emeritus of Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto. This book provided the answers I was looking for and made me realize how easy it was for even highly educated people to fall for non-evidence-based solutions to, what they think are, overwhelming problems.

Leave a Comment
©2018 - Project Straight Ink. All Rights Reserved.