BACKGROUND. The Oakton Institute
National Education Association, the
American Academy of
Pediatrics, and the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
in expressing concerns over suspicionless drug testing of the nation's
youth. But while their issues may deal with the Constitution or with parental
trust, the Institute points out yet another reason for alarm. Our concern
is that many of the individuals and organizations who signed the Amicus
Curie Brief that was filed with the courts in the latest round over this
issue have ties to Straight, Inc. via Straight Foundation, Inc. And since
Straight, Inc. has such a dastardly reputation for child abuse, we feel
that individuals or organizations that decide to associate themselves
with Straight Foundation, Inc. should not necessarily have special influences
over U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The protest was also to show solidarity
with those who are currently in a civil suit with the Straight legacy
program SAFE in Orlando, Fl.
DATIA (Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association) is a Washington,
DC - based association of over 1,000 members involved in drug and alcohol
testing. It is an educational and a lobbying association and is a signer,
along with Straight Foundation which now calls itself Drug Free America
Foundation (DFAF), of the
Amicus Curie brief filed with the Supreme Court to influence that
court's June 27, 2002 decision to allow high schools to require suspicionless
drug testing of students. On their web site DATIA announces, "Now that
the U.S. Supreme Court has determined it is constitutional for schools
to subject extracurricular participants to mandatory, suspicionless drug
tests, DATIA is pleased host a comprehensive training workshop." The workshop
sponsors include: DFAF (e.g. Straight), Institute on Global Drug Policy
(a division of DFAF), International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug
Abuse (a division of DFAF), Legal Foundation Against Illicit Drugs (an
organization which has worked closely with DFAF's Institute on Global
Drug Policy and International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse),
and Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS), a non-profit founded by Straight
founder Betty Sembler. The The Straight sponsored DATIA "Workshop
on Implementing a Student Drug Testing Program" will
be held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington,
DC. on July 18, 2002. Three picket sites are identified: the DATIA workshop,
the Italian Embassy (Straight founder Mel Sembler is our ambassador to
Italy), and the office of Robert Horan, Commonwealth Attorney for Fairfax,
Virginia at 4110 Chain Bridge Rd, Fairfax,. We intend on demanding that
Mr. Horan launch an investigation into the several suicides of former
students from Straight - Springfield (including two history breaking double
suicides each involving at least one former Straight student).
Note changes in black bold as of
072302; blue bold as of 072602.
We started auspiciously enough
with Chris meeting Wes Fager at a copying center off Picket Dr.
in Fairfax, Virginia. At 1:30 William, Chris and Wes went to the Commonwealth
Attorney's Office in Fairfax. We have concerns about the 10 former clients
from Straight - Springfield who have committed suicide. We know that people
who commit suicide are often on drugs, but we also knew that two of the
suicides involved kids who had graduated Straight and even been Straight
counselors. We knew that Straight had broken Nancy's
(not her real name) finger years before by bending it to the
wrist backwards until it touched above her wrists in an effort to try
to get her to admit she was a drug addict. That later Straight released
her saying they did not feel drug abuse was her primary problem. We knew
when they found her naked body after the fall that she had tattooed above
her wrist the word "discipline". We knew that Straight treated many kids
who had substance abuse problems, but we also knew that Straight is notorious
for treating kids like Nancy for drug addiction who are
not drug addicts. We knew, for example, that Straight had paid Fred
Collins $220,000 for falsely imprisoning him and for treating him for
addiction when he was not an addict. We knew that Straight's treatment
was so demeaning and demoralizing that he says that he had contemplated
suicide as a way out, but he had managed to escape and continue his studies
and is now a PhD in mathematics. In other words, we knew that people who
use drugs are at greater risk of suicide than those who do not use drugs,
but we also had good reason to believe that Straight's treatment
itself could potentially cause a person to contemplate suicide whether
he was an addict or not.
We knew Jacqueline M. Ennis, formerly head of licensing for Virginia's
Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services,
speaking about Straight [Saint Petersburg Times, 7-31-91] had said, "Several
children attempted suicide while staying with host families, but the attempts
were not reported and the children were not treated. . . Some teen-age
clients were forced to reveal their sexual fantasies during group sessions.
Others were subjected to "spit therapy," where children would spit on
each other to reduce their egos." We figured that if a kid became suicidal
in Straight, then Straight should have informed his parents of this in
case the child should attempt suicide after Straight.
We had some data on Straight - Springfield: For example:
Client 90025 said she was spat upon, locked in a closet, had her shoulder
dislocated and was raped with a curling iron by old comer girls for not
writing her Moral Inventory. State health officials could not substantiate
the report. Later she slit her wrists.(8) Straight - Springfield client
# 89016 made a suicide attempt in August 1988 but there is no record that
a psychiatrist was informed. On Mar 9, 1989 Straight notes state "her
needs could be better met in another facility." On March 16 she attempted
suicide again by cutting her wrists and an old comer was assigned to watch
her. Again no psychiatrist was informed. She was finally released on April
14, 1989.(9) In January 1989, Straight-Springfield client # 89028, who
claims he had been restrained and spat upon, tried to hang himself. A
psychiatrist prescribed Desipramine, but there was no follow-up. In February
# 89028 told a fellow client he didn't feel like living anymore, and cut
his wrists requiring 7 stitches.
In a site visit by Virginia authorities to Straight-Springfield client
# 3 reported that after making a suicidal gesture she was stood before
Group which shouted to her that she was "sick" and mockingly sang the
"Tasty Cake" song to her. Client # 2 reported being sung "The Tasty Cake"
song and put on "suicide watch" by her peers after her suicide gesture.
[h] No doctor was called. Client's 1, 3, 5, and 11 reported that newcomers
are often placed on suicide watch as a consequence to deprive them of
sleep. In a Virginia Department of Mental Health letter on June 13, 1989
to Mr. Dare, Straight's attorney, Mr. Dare was informed that inspector
Joni Baldwin had noticed scratches and scars on children to support that
incidents of children carving on themselves was occurring and that from
her observations staff was not situated where they could spot this activity.
We knew that many Straight clients had drug problems and we agree with
the prevailing thought that many people who use illicit drugs have low
self esteem. We know that Straight brainwashes and that requires demoralization
of self, so we were haunted by Stanton Peele's (the world renowned addiction
treatment specialist) words at last years conference, "why take someone
who obviously already feels bad about himself and make him feel worse."
We figured kids should not play psychiatrist and be drug abuse counselors,
and that mocking and screaming at a person for attempting suicide was
not a good thing to do. In fact, we felt that that sort of treatment might
spawn off a suicide attempt.
From our own investigation we knew that in the last 20 years in the county
there have been three cases of multiple suicides of high school age
kids. Two of those were double suicides each involving at least one
former Straight client. We figured that if "druggie kids" kill themselves,
then those kids treated in other drug rehabs also should have similar
statistics. Thus we felt we should be reading about 20 multiple suicides,
but they are just not there. And so we wanted to present our case to Mr.
Horan, the Commonwealth Attorney, who has never bothered to respond
to two previous registered letters sent to him by Wesley Fager. Mr. Horan
is on leave. An assistant attorney took our complaint and gave us a receipt.
We just want the authorities to identify just exactly how many former
Straight - Springfield clients have committed suicide, and we want them
to show us that similar statistics exists for former clients of other
county juvenile rehabs.
We had previously called in our intent to protest. A security lieutenant
named Cooper met us. We shook hands and he said we were the most polite
group of protesters he had ever had. We protested for an hour, answered
a few questions and headed for the big protest in the sky.
The big protest was in DC. We took some pictures but no one had a digital
camera so it will be a bit before we have some pictures. There were many
drug policy reformers there protesting the Supreme Court decision to allow
for suspicionless drug testing of our citizens. They put on a colorful
show. Walking in a circle with their signs, bullhorn blaring. They had
a large canvas copy of the 4th Amendment and took turns pouring lemonade
over it from a little vial (at least I assume it was lemonade, I didn't
actually drink any). They had maybe 20 - 30 people there.
Ginger was there from Pennsylvania and Scott from Philadelphia. Kathy,
Bill, Shelby and I were from Virginia. Nick, Chris, Kim and Sara (from
The Seed) came up from Florida. Candy (a parent from SAFE) was from Maryland.
Why would people who were in a drug rehab 15 - 20 years ago leave time
from work and go so far to protest? I stood off in the fringes talking
to people, handing out fliers. Surprisingly many came out from the conference
and walked up to me, apparently intrigued in what our position was in
all this. I told them we were not protesting the Supreme Court decision,
rather we were protesting the fact that Straight Foundation, Inc., now
calling itself Drug Free America Foundation, Inc., and others related
to it are co-sponsors for the DATIA workshop. I pointed out that Straight,
Inc. (out of which Straight Foundation, Inc arose) ran a chain of drug
rehab programs that are notorious for child abuse, and that we did not
think that the players behind DFAF should play a major role in shaping
national drug policy. I gave them a flier that traced DFAF's background
in drug policy. I spoke to Dave Evans, the attorney who authored the Amicus
Curie Brief to the Supreme Court. I gave him a bunch of documents. He
presented a very threatening side and repeatedly told me that I'd better
be careful of what I say about him. I told him our argument was not with
him but with the people behind the brief who were associated with DFAF.
A man came out who knew Mr. Evans. He also had a very adversarial tone.
He told me he knew Betty Sembler and he spoke very highly of her. I gave
him documents too. He warned me that I had better be able to back up what
I've written. I felt as though both men had walked up to me filled with
hearsay-induced animosity, clueless as to the real documented issues of
our cause. I felt that the one man was just a courier who would never
personally read the documents and would forever remain clueless and hostile.
But I know that Mr. Evans will read every word, every word--very carefully.
I had told Mr. Evans that our issue is not with him, rather it is with
the people backing the brief. But I did not tell him that I have an issue
with him personally. I think I'll express that now. When I fly in an airplane
I want to be reasonably assured that the pilot is not on drugs. And I
don't want our intelligence people selling secrets to support a drug habit.
But things happen in war time. Not long ago this country interned all
citizens who had slanted eyes, the greater number of people believing
the common security outweighed those people's Constitutional rights. Forty
years later it cost us all a lot of money. Now we are in another great
war, The War on Drugs, or at least there are many in this country who
want to make it a war. Once again a public hysteria has set in to suspend
Constitutional rights. Mr. Evans has found a way to get the Constitutional
rights of a class of citizens suspended, increasing the quota from the
1995 US Supreme Court decision which called for suspicionless drug testing
of just public school athletes. He did this, not by finding a loop hole
in the Constitution. He did this by helping to prevail upon the justices
that this is what the American drug establishments thinks is best for
the safety of our kids--and he and they may be right. But just one example,
if I may. Robert DuPont is one of the signers of that brief. And he, his
company, his other company, his partner and a worker in one of the companies
all signed the brief. Among other things Robert DuPont is on the advisory
board for DFAF, and he is chair of the scientific advisory board for Psychemedics--the
world's premiere hair testing company. Now while he and they may truly
feel that drug testing of kids in violation of their rights is for their
own good, it seems to me that the more kids are tested, the more money
Psychemedics, for one, stands to make. If we are going to play around
with Constitutional rights, then THERE CAN BE NO QUESTION OF CONFLICT
OF INTEREST. In the end Mr. Evans has found a way to weaken the Constitution
of the United States. Folks, over this drug war, the court has overstepped
our Constitution twice, and maybe three times. There will be further attempts
to erode the Constitution and its Constitutional Amendments in the name
of the War on Drugs. I think that is a dangerous road to take and I am
not proud of Mr. Evans for the role has played in it.
A man called Chris an addict or words to that effect. Chris shouted back
that he was a successful business man who did not use drugs. Near the
end an elderly lady came by. She started in on me, "so you want our kids
strung out on drugs, dying from overdoes, throwing their lives away."
I interrupted her. "Just a minute madam," I said. "In all your years,
in all your travels, when you ask people that, have you ever found one
person, just one, who told you, 'yes, all I live for is to see our kids
strung out on drugs, dying from overdoes, throwing their lives away.'
" "Please don't patronize me madam," I continued, "no one wants to see
our kids strung out on drugs. I don't think kids should abuse drugs, but
I and I don't think adults should abuse kids, either." She told me she
didn't want to hear about Straight, that she's an expert in treatment
and knew about Straight's past and that they went away in 1993. That's
when I told her that was one of our problems, that there are many Straight
legacy programs still in operation and we want assurances they are not
doing what Straight did.
At 7 PM we conducted a vigil at
the Italian Embassy. We were down to Bill, Shelby, Scott, Candy and myself.
Chris, Kim and Nick drove over separately but got lost. (In the future,
if you don't know Washington, take the metro). The place was deserted.
Once in a while some one would walk by. A couple of people asked what
we were doing. Three uniformed officers from the US Secret Service came
by. We were impressed to get the attention. We lit white candles in remembrance
of former clients who had committed suicide. I walked up to the security
gate and pressed talk button. An Italian voice came on. He got someone
who could speak English. I told him that I was Wesley Fager, an American
citizen, and that we were outside conducting a demonstration. He said
I know we've been watching you. I said, I'm sure you have. I requested
to speak to someone in authority. He said they were closed to come back
tomorrow at 9AM. I said buon giorno. He returned buon jiorno. We started
to leave and Chris and the others finally showed up. They were wanting
to demonstrate but we said we were beat and everyone went home.