professionals say about the Straights
run very close
to really performing psychic murder.
director of the Cincinnati
Chapter of the ACLU,
|Everything I see smacks of child abuse.
|West Palm Beach, Florida Circuit Judge Michael Gersten
commenting on Growing Together, a Straight-descendent program
in Lake Worth, Florida [The Palm Beach Post, 3-9-90, p. 8a]
|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
|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
is too easy for tyranny to
eclipse therapy when teenagers
have authority over other
|Straight officials have generously allowed
me to witness some of their group sessions firsthand . .
. I believe that Straight's treatment can be fairly
compared with 'brainwashing' in prisoner-of-war camps as
documented by Brown (1963, chap. 2)*. Thus, procedures
that would be reprehensible in any context outside of a
prisoner-of-war camp are considered acceptable
'treatment' in the case of drug addiction.
|Dr. Bruce K. Alexander of Simon Fraser
University in Peaceful Measures: Canada's Way Out
of the 'War on Drugs', p. 75; [*Techniques of
Persuasion: From Propaganda to Brainwashing by J. A.
|So we were very concerned about a program which we
looked at as being something of a private jail, utilizing techniques of
torture and punishment which even a convicted criminal wouldn't be subject
to. . . and I use their terminology--restraint techniques, it would be
our terminology that it was child abuse and torture--was directed by Miller
|David Levin, formerly assistant state attorney for Sarasota,
Florida commenting on Straight's former national clinical director Reverend
Doctor Miller Newton on CBS' West 57th Street (1-21-89)
a program that practices psychological coercion and physical assault against
children under the guise of drug and alcohol treatment. I believe
there is reason to fear for the physical and mental safety of any child
sent to the program.
|Dr. Richard Ofshe,
author and thought control specialist at the University of California,
|She seemed quite
fearful and seemed to project an image of a child whose spirit and sense
of confidence had been totally crushed.
|Coral Springs psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Moskowitz commenting
on a 15 year old girl named Dana who recently got out of a Straight- descendent
program called Growing Together in Lake Worth, Florida [The Palm
Beach Post, 3-9-90, p. 8a]
one of the worst excesses created by the drug war environment, where
'anything goes' kind of intolerance toward drug users prevails. It
is a cult. plain and simple, of people who seize on parent's frustrations
with their youngsters and then subject the kids to torture and brainwashing
to make them obedient and drug-free.
|Dr. Arnold Trebach,
attorney, author and professor emeritus of criminal justice
at American University and founder of The Drug Policy Foundation
|. . . the violations that we found when we investigated
were overwhelmingly of violations of civil rights and safety and health
and people being held against their will, sleep deprivation, restraint,
seclusion, things like that.
|Bob Dickson, Commissioner, the Texas Commission on Alcohol
and Drug Abuse on CBS' West 57th Street (1-21-89) explaining why
the state of Texas revoked the license for
KIDS of El Paso--a Straight
|The development which takes place is best described
as a �resocialization process.' The individual is, in a fashion, �brainwashed'
to give up his old deviant patterns.
Synanon board member and U.C.L.A. sociologist
Dr. Lewis Yablonski commenting on the process of attacking old patterns
in a synanon AKA a "confrontational-type" therapeutic community. From
Tunnel Back by Lewis Yablonski, p. 261. [Synanon Church is the
progenitor of the Straight/Seed/KIDS peer conducted, attack therapy concept.]
|. . . it was "almost unbelievable" that the director
of the program, a man with "supposedly" strong credentials,
would allow and condone the use of violence. "We find the institution
highly questionable and someone should look into it. We think there's
something radically wrong."
|Secaucus, New Jersey Municipal Judge Emil DeBaglivo referring
to Miller Newton (Straight's former national clinical director) upon
convicting three of Newton's counselors for beating a client at Kids
of North Jersey. "We were basically breaking his will,"
one of the counselors admitted; also stating that Newton "did
tell us to do it." [The Record (Hackensack), New Jersey, 12-24-93,
is Nancy Reagan on national TV promoting
Miller Newton's book Not My Kid and a book by Straight consultant
Bob DuPont. Former Drug Czar Carlton Turner endorses the front
of Newton's book Not My Kid with these words: "Not
My Kid should be required reading for any parent concerned about
their children's future."
|Documentation on file indicates that there have been
incidents where children have been subjected [to] unusual punishment,
infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threat,
mental abuse or other actions of a punitive nature, including . . . interference
with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping or toileting, or withholding
|Letter dated June 27, 1990 from Fred Dumont, Santa
Ana, California District Manager for Dept. of Social Services to Straight,
National Headquarters explaining why state authorities ordered the program
Loebenberg was taken to a great hall filled with Jews who
were given no food, no water, no toilet facilities�and no idea what was
to be done with them.
|A 1989 quote from a lengthy article about how one 14 year old
boy had escaped the Nazi Holocaust. [Saint Petersburg
Times, 9-5-89, National, p. 1A]
That little boy was Walter
Loebenberg who went on to found the Tampa Bay Holocaust Museum and,
paradoxically, to be President of Straight Foundation, Inc.
Lied to upon entering Straight, students did not know what was going to be
done to them in a place that often regulated their food and water
intake. Straight students and inmates of Nazi concentration camps were often
denied the right to defecate in private.
|. . . Her current reports of drug use, in my opinion,
would not warrant ongoing intensive treatment but we should continue to
evaluate her. . .
|Written opinion by a Straight-Springfield consulting psychiatrist
on October 27, 1989 regarding a client named Nancy (not her real name) on her first year anniversary
of treatment. Two weeks later an adult counselor and six old comers took Nancy into a timeout room where some spat on her, screamed obscenities
at her, and bent her finger backwards until it touched her wrist--and broke!
But they were unable to get her to admit she was a drug addict
(because she wasn't) and so two and a half months later, after 16 months of evaluation,
she was finally released. In 2001 Nancy mysteriously fell four floors
from her apartment window killing her instantly. A tattoo on her
wrist read DISCIPLINE. [In 1989, the National
Geographic (of all magazines!) reported that since 1984 the percentage
of "Straight's clients admitting to cocaine use has risen from about 25
to more than 75 percent."]
|[Straight is] a fascist dictatorship. . . They've got all the strong points and bad points of totalitarian groups.
| Dr. Stanton Peele, world renowned
|According to sworn testimony, Straight often left restrained
group members sitting in their own urine, feces or vomit until suitable
concessions were extracted.
|When a person is subjected to coercive persuasion without
his knowledge or consent . . . [he may] develop serious and sometimes
irreversible physical and psychiatric disorders, up to and including
schizophrenia, self-mutilation, and suicide.
|California Supreme Court, United
States v. Lee [455 U.S. 252, 257, 258 (1982)
thought we were taking away children's rights. But we saw it just the
opposite - giving them back their rights by helping them get off drugs.
Sembler, Straight's founder, Florida Trend
Straight is not a health care organization. It is a business posing as a health care organization and as
a result hundreds of kids have been hurt. All
of the business operations consist of fraud, double and triple billing of health
insurance companies at the same time and they bill government grants while
telling parents they are not the recipients of any kinds of government money.
Kennedy, Ph.D. Pharmacy,
MS, Hospital Administration, of Austin, Texas
after a private, three year investigation of Straight. [Channel 12, Eye on Tampa Bay Show, 1992]
|In 1992 the Georgia Department of Human Resources Office of Regulatory Affairs cited Straight - Atlanta for:
|*Hiring unqualified staff members
|*Ignoring client complaints about being denied water, sleep and medical attention.
|*Violating state and federal laws on dispensing medications.
|*Not evaluating and documenting a policy that allows clients to restrain other clients.
| The Atlanta Journal, April 3, 1992, p. E1.
|It has been determined that Straight, Inc. has consistently failed to abide by the requirements of
law... Among violations cited were: the unsupervised dispensing of medications; treating clients who did not meet Straight's criteria of being chemically dependent or being in danger of becoming chemically dependent; forcing clients to sleep in beds with other clients; failing to care for injured clients; and restraining clients with nylon rope. It was noted that at least one [host home] family failed to provide proper bathroom facilities for the clients of Straight, giving them only a container to urinate in during the night.
| A letter to Straight - Dallas dated August 8, 1991 from the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse notifying Straight of the Commission's intent to revoke Straight's license. Straight - Dallas voluntarily closed on October 31, 1991 citing economic reasons for
closing. The Irving News, December 1 - 4, 1991.
|Straight, like many religious cults, has maintained its right to conceal its aims from potential inductees. . .By any objective standard, the activities of Straight Inc. and its imitators run afoul of these criteria
[Susan Andersen's Four Criteria for inferring cult-like deceptive
practices]. While Straight may be among the worst offenders, it is far from alone.
|We must make every effort to end drug and alcohol use
among our young people and Straight has an excellent record of success
in meeting this goal... That's what organizations like yours are about--our
children, our families, and our future.
|President Ronald Reagan [from a Straight pamphlet].
|As one parent to another, I know there's no hurt
a parent can be given that can equal that that your child can give you...But
I'm proud of you because you have supported your children and given
them the love they need.
|Nancy Reagan, a frequent visitor to Straights all over
the country, from a Straight brochure
|[SAFE] fits my model of a destructive, mind-control
|Steve Hassan--internationally known expert on mind control
commenting on the Straight-descendent program SAFE, Inc. in Orlando,
|SAFE is a very
successful substance abuse recovery program and is a valuable tool in assisting
our youth in overcoming their drug and alcohol dependency.
Governor Jeb Bush from a letter dated
September 30, 2000 and written even though he had been advised that
a Florida TV station was doing a controversial series on the Straight
descendent program SAFE. Betty was Jeb's
finance co-chairman. Jeb
Bush declared August 8, 2000 Betty Sembler Day in Florida in
part for her work work with the Straights.
|Other forms of behavior modification techniques employ
intensive "encounter sessions" in which individuals are required to participate
in group therapy discussions where intensive pressure is often placed on
the individuals to accept the attitudes of the group. . . Once the individual
is submissive, his personality can begin to be reformed around attitudes
determined by the program director to be acceptable. Similar to the highly
refined "brainwashing" techniques employed by the North Koreans in the
early nineteen fifties, the method is used in the treatment of drug abusers.
. . "The Seed", a drug abuse treatment program in Florida that, until recently,
received funding from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare,
is based on a similar philosophy.
|INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND THE FEDERAL ROLE IN BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION by the Committee on the Judiciary,United States Senate, Subcommittee on Constitutional
Rights, November, 1974,
pp. 15 - 16 describing a juvenile
drug rehab program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called The Seed. [In
1975 The Seed closed all of its expansion programs. In 1976 Melvin and
Betty Sembler, along with some other former Seed-Saint Petersburg, Florida
parents, opened Straight--Saint Petersburg. The National Institute on Drug
Abuse, under the directorship of former Drug Czar Robert DuPont,
had administered a $1.4 million dollar grant to The Seed. Later he
became a paid consultant for Straight and testified for Straight in many
civil cases that Straight found itself in.] Link at: http://www.thestraights.net/images/seed-Ervin-brainwash.gif
|. . . In some instances they were locked in rooms by
themselves and denied food for days. They also reported that they were
made to sit in chairs without speaking while listening to others berate
them for hours. . . I recently interviewed a child that would be diagnosed
as an emotionally unstable personality with paranoid overtones. The use
of the above noted practices with this kind of child could easily result
in a precipitation of major mental disturbance. Fortunately this child
was able to run from the Seed before very much damage had been done to
her psychologically. She did manifest some confusion and paranoid ideation
which she felt was a result of the manner in which she was treated by the
Seed personnel. I have also interviewed children who made suicide attempts
following their running from the Seed. Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness,
hopelessness, and despair were in evidence.
|Letter from Jeffery J.
Elenewski, Ph.D., clinical
psychologist, The Children's Psychiatric Center, Dade County, Florida
to Mr. Alex Miller , Youth Coordinator, Florida State Drug
Abuse Program, Miami which is included as part of the 1974 U.S. Senate
report on Straight's predecessor: The Seed.
[Straight] has many of the poor points of
The Seed and few of the good points. If I had to recommend one I�d recommend The Seed.
|Straight board member Theodore Anderson upon joining
the ranks of a half dozen board members, almost all former
Seed parents, who resigned within the first 16 months of Straight's
|. . . kids trying to hurt themselves, slashing their wrists because they found the program so hard to cope with, and those sorts of things, along with the fact that children who are at the program have no contact with their parents where they can tell their parents, "Gee! Something's going wrong here."
|Bette McClure of Massachusetts' Office for Children on Stoughton TV Checkpoint News Center 9, c. July 1991, a week after OFC's decision not to renew Straight - Boston's license because of findings of "abuse, strip searches and a dangerous environment for the kids at Straight".
|Straight is not a health care organization. It is a business posing as a health care organization and as a result hundreds of kids have been hurt. All of the business operations consist of fraud, double and triple billing of health insurance companies at the same time and they bill government grants while telling parents they are not the recipients of any kinds of government money.
|Janet Kennedy, Ph.D. Pharmacy, MS, Hospital Administration, of Austin, Texas after a private, three year investigation of Straight. [Channel 12, Eye on Tampa Bay Show, 1992]
|. . . we left there [Straight-St Pete], on the way back I said--we walked in the motel room and I remember saying, "It's a cult. There is something about this place, this is a scary
|Sworn court deposition of Patricia Crandall, a drug addiction specialist from Minnesota, on May 7, 1983 for the Fred Collins' trial. Ms. Crandall had accompanied Sharon Wegscheider to do an evaluation of Straight at Straight's request. She is relating her comments at the time to Ms. Wegscheider.�
Because the children and young adult peer staff are turned loose with a high degree of authority, moderated by like-thinking executive staff, it felt to me, in another time and another country, that Hitler had fired their imagination and captured their thoughts. And that I, as a Jew, could be the target of more than their emotional fury with a snap of a finger of their guru. It felt like a cult and a deprogramming, not a confrontational program.
|Sandy Levy Barbero, M.S.W. (today a LCSW) from her
on her visit to
Kids of Bergen
County, a second-generation Straight where she spent two and a half days in 1989.
There are indications that a
cult of The Seed has developed which leads seedlings to associate only with other seedlings and to ostracize those who associate with non-seedlings. This has led to the formation of continuing limited peer groups outside the program which restrict seedlings' interaction with normal society. Allegiance to such a peer group may lead to a transfer of decision-making and opens the possibility that if the peer group shifts direction it may return its members to drug abuse or turn them to other anti-social behavior.
|1974 Report by the Staff of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. [Saint Petersburg Times, 4-26-74, p. 7B]. The Seed was the immediate program upon which Straight was built.
I know many returned Seedlings, there are many here at the High School. When they return, they are "straight", namely, quiet, well-dressed, short hair and not under the influence of drugs compared to their previous appearance of stoned most of the time. However, they seem to be living in a robot-like atmosphere, they won't speak to anyone outside their own group. . . I have noticed that it is almost necessary that the Seedlings be rehabilitated into social situations upon their return from The Seed. . . I attempted to visit The Seed in order to speak to them about how we could work with them and what we should do. I asked for help. I was treated rudely, two people who went with me, were denied permission to enter and were closely watched in a separate room. In addition to rude treatment, I was told that The Seed was not interested in helping us. The Seed counselor with whom I spoke, said, "We are not interested in educators or any of the people out there because they don't know anything. The world out there stinks, we will not come to school
Seedlings seem to have an informing system on each other and on others that is similar to Nazi Germany. They run in to use the telephone daily, to report against each other to The Seed. . . I used to take kids there. Now, I know that a number of the children are back on drugs and I am not sure whether the method in which they do return home and the difficulties they have in school, is an improvement over their previous condition of being on drugs.
|Telephone statement of Helen Kloth, Guidance Counselor, North Miami Beach Senior High School to Paul T. Schabacker, Senior Health Planner, Individual Rights and the Federal Role in Behavior Modification, A Study Prepared by the Staff of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Committee of the Judiciary of the United States Senate, November 1974, pp. 190 -191
It's a question of philosophy. What do you want for an end product? Do you want a robot, or someone who can think and act for
|Thomas Perrin, a former alcoholism counselor talking about the Straight-legacy program Kids of Bergen County [Bergen Record, 7-27-86, p. A17]
I wasn't me anymore, I was them. I thought what they thought, I did what they wanted me to. I could feel a sense of
be blunt, I have spent 15 years working in the drug-abuse field,
traveling to more than 20 countries and visiting hundreds of prevention
programs. Straight, Inc. is the best drug-abuse treatment program
I have seen. Lest there be any doubt that this is an accolade
I have bestowed easily or casually, I can tell you that I have
not said that about any other program.
|Twenty-two-year-old Lenny in 1986 describing how he felt after leaving the Straight legacy program Kids of Bergen County in 1984. [Bergen Record, 7-27-86, p. A17]
|Former White House Drug Czar, founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and paid Straight consultant Robert L. DuPont, Jr., M.D. from a Straight brochure. As director of NIDA Dr. DuPont had administered a whopping $1.4 million dollar grant to Straight's predecessor The Seed whose methods had been likened by the US Senate to those of North Korean brainwashing.��
|In 1976 Betty and I helped found STRAIGHT, a non-profit, adolescent drug treatment and rehabilitation program with branches across the U.S., which successfully treated and graduated more than 12,000 young people nationwide. For 17 years, I served as chairman of the board of STRAIGHT. Other than our children, nothing was more rewarding than this effort. Betty and I initially agreed that if we helped one child it would be worth all the effort. With 12,000 successful graduates . . . It was a gratifying accomplishment.
|We share the same democratic heritage and respect for humanity and human rights.
Ambassador2 Mel Sembler, AO comparing the people of Australia with the people of America at a speech given at the Tiger Bay Club at the St. Petersburg Hilton Inn and Tower [St. Petersburg Times, May 17, 1990, Section: TAMPA BAY AND STATE Page: 3B Edition: CITY]
|As a proud American, I find Melvin Sembler, our ambassador to Italy, and his wife, Betty, to be profound embarrassments. It is important that their advice on the drug war and especially on drug treatment be ignored. Indeed, it might be best if Italians listened to what this powerful couple had to say about drugs - and then followed policies in precisely the opposite direction.
|Arnold Trebach, Professor Emeritus of Law at American University. Citation