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 E’
Program Dates: 4/11/1977 to November 1977
Exited Program By: Termination
Client E’s complaint came in to the District V office through State Representative, Kurt Kaiser’s office who informed them that she was claiming that she had been mistreated in Straight Inc. and claims to have been wrapped in a blanket while at the Straight Program and sat on.
Client E entered the program on 4/11/1977. At this time she refused to sign any papers and she continued to refuse to sign anything throughout her entire stay in the program.
She made second phase 5/9/1977 and third phase on 6/24/1977.
In July, 1977, while on third phase, Client E began attending the Pinellas Vocational Technical Institute.
On 8/29/1977 she attempted to run from the program because she found out that she was going to have to start over in the program because of some attitude problems which the Straight Staff felt she had.
In September of 1977, Marlene, a staff member, cut Client E’s hair against her will.
Client E was Strapped into a Chair with 12″ Wide Canvas Type Material Straps and Returned to the Group in that Condition.
Client E states that she had also been strapped up for fighting. She describes the straps as being about 12 inches wide and made of a canvas type, stretchy material which were wrapped around her knees and arms. She was then placed in a chair and taken before the group in this condition. She states that some of the witnesses were as follows: (all names are redacted, including the names that include descriptions such as ___, son of ___, investigator for the State Attorney’ office.)
Client E successfully escaped on 9/27/1977 and while she was gone she was either on the run, in the Juvenile Detention Center, or in a Shelter Home.
Client E’s mother was told that while her daughter was in the program it was necessary at times to restrain her by wrapping her in a blanket for fighting with various staff members and to keep her from hurting herself.
Client E had confided to her mother that during a group rap meeting Mrs. Petermann slapped her in the face.
Client E’s mother told the investigator that she had intended to ask Mrs. Petermann about this, but never got around to it.
Client E Was Denied Food, Slapped in the Face, and Rolled in a Blanket for Restraint.
Client E also states that during her stay in the program, she had a meal withheld for throwing the crust of a piece of bread away. At times meals were withheld from her in the foster homes for not cooperating with the program.
Client E told the investigator that Mrs. Petermann had called her a whore during the last two months of her stay in the Straight Program because she would not stay or cooperate with the program. Client E advised that during the slapping incident, she attempted to run from the program and was brought back into the program by some of the staff members and other clients involved.
When Client E was confronted by Mrs. Petermann, Client E made such remarks as “fuck you” and “suck a dick.” Marci and Amy, who both were staff members, were present when Mrs. Petermann slapped her as were (names redacted) and others. This slapping incident took place in the clinic and Client E advised that Mrs. Petermann hit her in the face three or four times with her hand. She was then rolled in a blanket for as much as an hour.
On a specific date in October of 1977 (exact day redacted), Client E was held at the Juvenile Detention Center and on the following day she had a detention hearing. Client E’s mother was present at that hearing and asked that her daughter be placed back into the Straight Program at that time. The case was then referred to Rosslyn Connelly in Intake “D” who ultimately place the youngster in the non-secure program (Straight, Inc.) on October 31, 1977 from which she ran again.
On November (date redacted), 1977, Client E was returned to the Juvenile Detention Center and was held in secure detention at that time. When she came in she had a new hairdo and was made to take a shower and use Kwell (for lice) which is a normal procedure. Client E objected to the procedure at the time due to the fact that she had a new hairdo, however, she made no particular fuss other than a verbal objection. It was noted at the time of her admission to the Juvenile Detention Center that she had scars all over her body.
On November 14, 1977, when Client E’s Counselor (from the Juvenile Detention Center) Richard Kirwin signed a release turning her over to the Straight Program, Client E states that Mr. Kirwin told her she would probably do something to be put out of the program anyway.
Client E said that later when she arrived at the program and refused to cooperate, she kicked Staff Member Liz Cassidy in the leg first and then hit her in the mouth causing injury to her lip; for this reason she was returned by the Straight Staff to the Juvenile Detention Center and terminated from the program.
The Straight staff members who brought Client E to the Detention Center were Nancy Gresham, Jr. and Lorie Metty. Client E informed the admitting Counselor Brenda George that she did not understand why she was forced to return to the Straight Program in the first place by the Court. She complained to Miss George that she had been wrapped in a blanket at the program and called names. She also told Miss George that she did not like her Public Defender. Miss George entered these things in her interim placement report.
Juvenile Detention Center Staff Never Had Any Problems with Client E
In addition to finding this information in Miss George’s report, the investigator interviewed Mrs. Hankins of the Detention Staff who had dealt with Client E while she was in the Detention Center. Mrs. Hankins advised that Client E had been quite upset over having to have her hair shampooed with Kwell because of her new hairdo, but other than that there was nothing unusual in her intake procedure. Mrs. Hankin further advised that Client E had been no real problem and that she and Mrs. Obremski, another member of the staff, had received letters from Client E who had since been sent to the State Training School at Trenton telling them how much she had enjoyed her stay at the Center while in their care.
When the investigator contacted the State Training School at Trenton, he had found out that Client E had been sent home for a home visit with her mother for a week. So he was able to interview both Client E and her mother at her mother’s home in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Straight, Inc. Drove a Wedge between Client E and Her Other Family Members
During the interview, Client E, told the investigator that she blames Straight, Inc. for the fact that both of her brothers (names redacted) who were in the program had very negative feelings about her. She says that her brothers are brainwashed and feels that both of them should look up to her rather than be against her. She also feels that the program should be either closed or changed but could offer no suggestions for any improvements in the program.
Client E did make some admissions regarding the program; she stated that even thought she was tricked into going into the program in the first place by her mother, that after a week of the program she did feel it was helping her.
Client E’s mother advised the investigator that her other two children who are in the program are doing very well and do have some very negative feelings about their sister. The mother advised that she feels the boys feel this way because she has had such a negative attitude and has done so many negative things the past. Mrs. (Client E’s Mom) had very strong feelings about the positive aspects of the Straight program and was very much in favor of it. She felt at that time that there were no obvious problems with the program.