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Offline Antigen

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Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« on: July 09, 2008, 11:26:30 PM »
Tony posted this article not long before the last server crash. The journalist, Patricia Ruland, posted a few days later asking for background information on Straight and other similar programs.

News: May 23, 2008

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase ... oid=627435

Rehabilitation or Torture?
Inmates charge privatized state 'rehab' program subjects women to prolonged physical stress and degradation
By Patricia J. Ruland

Men would riot here. – SAFPF inmate

What's worse than prison?

According to some former and current inmates, the state's Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facilities. Funded by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and staffed by Texas Department of Corrections officers and personnel employed by nonprofit operator Gateway Foundation of Chicago, the SAFPFs (referred to colloquially as "Safe-Ps") in theory provide rehabilitation to nonviolent offenders incarcerated for felony drug and alcohol convictions. Persons charged with violating the terms of their probation or parole can be sent to SAFPFs for treatment of their drug or alcohol addictions within the TDCJ system, as a means of avoiding harsher punishment. On the Gateway website, the foundation trumpets the low recidivism rates of inmates who complete its corrections-based program and summarizes its services: "Gateway operates nearly 25 corrections-based programs and provides treatment to over 15,000 men, women, adolescents and dually diagnosed substance abusers every year. Gateway treatment sites utilize Therapeutic Community paradigms, and are supplemented by Cognitive Self-Change methods."

But judging from more than a dozen narratives written by female SAFPF inmates and recently provided to Austin attorney Derek Howard, such facilities – which in Texas currently house 900 female inmates – in reality may be employing unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Some women incarcerated and assigned to SAFPF programs say they have been routinely deprived, humiliated, and degraded. Among other allegations, the women have charged they must often sit silently, rigidly, face-forward, in plastic chairs for long hours or days, occasionally through periods of weeks on end, sometimes as an individual punishment, at other times in collective punishment they fear and loathe as "the dreaded tighthouse."

To Howard's knowledge, no official Gateway/TDCJ therapeutic or disciplinary protocol recommends or allows a treatment so extreme as a "tighthouse." To the contrary, a Gateway official described tighthouse as a limited and carefully monitored therapeutic practice, but the inmates' descriptions of tighthouse (or "the chairs"), as a form of arbitrary and often harsh punishment, are starkly different from the official description. Women write, "It just is," and is "a big secret."

Considering the women's accounts, Howard is concerned the state of Texas may be funding, wittingly or unwittingly, what amounts to torture. "Torture is defined as 'the infliction of intense pain.' Forcing someone to sit in a hard chair for 16 hours a day constitutes torture, by anyone's standards," Howard argues. "We are now considering suing Gateway for violating the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment."

The inmate complaints have prompted an ongoing investigation by the state Office of Inspector General, whose investigators have been interviewing inmates on-site since January in the Halbert Unit in Burnet County and perhaps at other sites. According to Inspector General John Moriarty, the agency plans to conclude its inquiry soon; in late April he provided his "courtesy preliminary conclusion" to the Chronicle: that not one of the inmate allegations of abuse has been confirmed. (TDCJ officials, citing the open inspector general investigation, have declined to answer questions about SAFPFs.) Moriarty added that investigators found such "a preponderance of evidence" refuting the allegations that polygraphs (presumably of inmates only) were deemed unnecessary. Howard, interpreting Moriarty's suggestion as tantamount to an accusation of inmate collusion, countered, "It's ridiculously unlikely that the women got together and fabricated the allegations." Howard promised that whatever the inspector general's response, his own investigation would proceed.
'Fairness and Vindication'

In January, after witnessing what she considered a particularly abusive "therapeutic" episode, an inmate named Jodi Stodder-Caldwell (who had landed a six-month stint in an SAFPF after a complicated dispute with the parole bureaucracy and is now a resident in a College Station halfway house) decided she could sit silently no more. She persuaded more than a dozen others to join her in sending to Howard their personal accounts of the SAFPF practices. "Nothing bad can come of this," Stodder-Caldwell told her fellow inmates, because she believed relief and justice were finally possible. The inmates wrote mainly of their experiences in the Ellen Halbert Unit in Burnet County but also concerning the Hackberry Unit in Gates­ville. Inmates speculated that lawyers and the judges who assign women to the program – presented as an alternative to a conventional prison sentence – may not know what an SAFPF is really like in actual practice. "No one was able to tell me the therapeutic value of the chairs and how it is to help me in my recovery to remain sober," one woman wrote.

SAFPF staffers "tell us this is what we deserve, and it is all our fault," said Stodder-Caldwell. Wrote another, "Mr. Howard, I write this statement to you in the interest of fairness as well as vindication for those who do not have the resources to defend themselves, while being engulfed in a system hell-bent on sadistic punishment, a system that wears a mask for the public to maintain an image of integrity and altruism, when in reality the very rules and ideals this institution claims to instill in us to function in society are the ones they cannot seem to grasp themselves."
The Official Response

Asked for a response to the inmates' charges, Gateway President and CEO Michael Darcy disputed the inmates' accounts of the use of the tighthouse as "false," insisting that it is a carefully limited method designed to aid in the inmates' rehabilitation. Darcy insisted on written questions via e-mail and responded accordingly. "The therapeutic community model adopted by TDCJ has been one of the most effective means of reducing recidivism. A tighthouse [or Tight House] is a regular and integral part of the process of the 'Therapeutic Community' that is called for by the staff when the behaviors and attitudes of the clients need to be refocused on recovery issues."

Darcy continued: "Clients attend treatment programming for 4 hrs, either in the AM or PM. Gateway Foundation staff provide the educational groups. Each group will last 50 minutes with a 10 minute break.

"The clients may change rooms depending on the group. Chairs are provided for all clients to write and complete assignments."

In contrast, inmates directly subjected to tighthouse – as they say it is actually practiced – condemn this and other SAFPF practices as patently counterproductive to recovery. "I feel like a prisoner of war," wrote one woman, and, "This is not rehabilitation – it's torture," wrote another. Stodder-Caldwell, who had spent some time in Texas prisons in the mid-Nineties, before landing in the SAFPF program last year, summed up a common inmate sentiment. "At the toughest women's prison in Texas, I was never forced to endure abuse I have suffered at Halbert."
Moral Rehabilitation

Under the psychological principles of "therapeutic communities," SAFPFs in theory try to rehabilitate inmates' "morals" or characters along with their behavior. But inmates claim the punitive underbelly of the project is that under the guise of "therapy," women are often treated like misbehaving children who require severe punishment. For example, inmates say that SAFPF staff regularly direct inmates "to clean out your baby gut" – that is, "grow up" and admit their faults aloud to everyone. Disciplinary invectives from staff, inmates report, are often highly personal and intentionally wounding – most pointedly, targeting the inmates' worries and guilt concerning their families. "We would [hear] that our kids were better off with us gone," one inmate wrote, or that they didn't love their mothers. Staff allegedly brand pregnant inmates as "whores" or tell inmates disdainfully, for example, "I bet your baby has a black father." Inmates argue that Gateway SAFPFs effectively target women who've already suffered abuse throughout their lives, who perhaps have even learned to expect such treatment, leaving them with "no concept of civil rights," Stodder-Caldwell wrote.

According to the inmates, the questionable practices extend to medical matters, although Gateway CEO Darcy firmly responded that TDCJ, not Gateway, is responsible for the medical treatment of inmates, and TDCJ declined to answer any questions about conditions in SAFPFs. In practice, inmates charge, such division of responsibility is seldom clear, and the lines of authority are often blurred. According to the inmate narratives, staff, like abusive parents, repeatedly scold inmates as "whiny" or order them to "get out" when they seek medical help. For example, after a seizure caused a woman to tumble from her bunk to the concrete and left several knots on her head, she asked to be "laid in" (for rest and treatment), only to be refused by a nurse. Women also report that within the program itself, many medicines are frowned upon or banned – occasionally even antibiotics, so women who contract staph infections must endure open sores. "This is obscene!" one inmate exclaimed. Another inmate said that a handicapped woman had been forced to march on crutches and had contracted a staph infection under her arms.

Stodder-Caldwell wrote that she suffered hearing loss when denied antibiotics for an ear infection. Inmates say another inmate's chemotherapy, begun before she entered the program, had been halted without reason; other inmates reported that gynecological exams are so rough that bleeding can last for days. Inmates say that rather than be provided real treatment by medical personnel, they'd hear callous staff ask, laughing, whether they'd gotten their "miracle water." Stodder-Caldwell explained: "There is a common joke among the staff. When anyone goes to medical for any reason, they tell them they need to drink more water and dismiss the complaints. The staff jokingly ask when someone comes back from medical if they were given 'miracle water.'"

Another former inmate, now a resident in a halfway house, says she received an abnormal Pap smear in April 2007 while in TDCJ. She was given antibiotics, but officials took no further medical action during her imprisonment. She entered SAFPF at Halbert in October and reported to staff a continuing discharge, but medical staff declined to schedule additional tests during the several months she was in the program. After leaving SAFPF, she consulted a private doctor and has been diagnosed with a softball-size uterine tumor and is still waiting to find out if she has cancer.

Another inmate recounted "mind-crushing" therapeutic mind games, designed in theory to break down emotional resistance to treatment but, in practice, effectively pushing inmates to "the snapping point." Inmates say the Gateway program's therapy groups – said to be designed especially for women and which they are required to refer to as their prison "family" – routinely deteriorate into humiliating and unendurable pabulum. Stodder-Caldwell wrote that during her stay in SAFPF, inmates were required to spend several hours a week singing children's songs, like "B-I-N-G-O" or "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." Groups occasionally erupt into pseudo-therapeutic feeding frenzies, inmates charge, due to program rules that women must "tell on" each other or face their own punishments. Heads of inmate-run "governments" (appointed by staff) supervise their subordinate "expediters" and mete out sanctions. What is often "expedited," inmates say, is desperate self-preservation, through "spying and snitching."

"They drive us to exhaustion, and then pit us against each other," one account states. To attorney Howard, the practice of forced-informing and imposed inmate hierarchies is reminiscent of the Stockholm syndrome found in prisoner-of-war camps, in which prisoners are conditioned to identify with their captors. Women also report being punished for not anticipating others' infractions and reporting them to guards in advance. One former inmate lamented wryly, "Sir, I do not possess the power of precognition."
Collective Punishment

The women's most dramatic and insistent complaints concern the individual and collective punishment known as "tighthouse." By their accounts, Gateway's exaggerated time-out-style punishment (or "therapy") has evolved in practice into a marathon form of physical and psychological brutality. One inmate wrote: "I was sitting in chairs for so long, my knees hurt, my back hurt, my head hurt. I was about to lose my mind." Another woman says she experienced "almost unbearable" joint pain from aggravated scoliosis and fibromyalgia, as well as excruciating bowel, kidney, and bladder discomfort.

Inmates so fear tighthouse that staff routinely use it as a disciplinary threat, taunting, "It is coming." If women see two or more counselors at their door, they fear they are headed for "the chairs." More often, they say, a tighthouse hits without warning. "After work one day ... the guards were yelling and screaming, telling us to hurry. The older and weaker had trouble carrying their things, and if we tried to help, we were threatened," an inmate recalled. "I walked past an older black lady on the ground begging for help." One woman recounted a 2002 tighthouse in Gatesville that involved an entire unit of several hundred women, which she says lasted, in varying degrees of intensity, for 42 days. For several weeks, she wrote, inmates were confined to chairs for as much as 16 hours a day (roughly from 4am to 8pm) in an "extremely hot" gym, with only brief bathroom breaks and minimal meals. In the remaining hours, they were expected to complete all work duties, other program obligations, and attend to any other personal needs.

According to her written account, during the "tighthouse" hours in the chairs, "people were passing out and breaking down," forbidden behaviors that resulted in additional punishment. Moreover, she wrote, that during these weeks of collective punishment, "There were several suicide attempts, and at one point I thought the inmates were going to riot."

Several inmate narratives recount another particularly disturbing incident at the Halbert Unit this year, during which a Hispanic inmate paid an additional price after being sucker-punched by another inmate (who was placed in segregation). According to Stodder-Caldwell and other inmates, the assaulted woman (who had not retaliated) was singled out for exemplary retribution for having been in a fight. As the inmates tell it, in advance of a group meeting, SAFPF personnel deliberately fomented a "mob mentality" by threatening all the inmates with "chairs" unless they reported the designated inmate's every negative behavior at the upcoming session. The unsuspecting woman finally entered the room for what Stodder-Caldwell described as a brutal "tribunal." "It was like watching a pack of wolves," Stodder-Caldwell wrote. "She was the sacrificial lamb used to teach us a lesson – to kill or be killed." According to the inmates, such group criticism sessions served both to punish transgressing inmates and enforce group discipline – those who refuse to participate by accusing their neighbors of infractions are themselves subject to punishment.

Stodder-Caldwell, who speaks some Spanish, says she refused to participate, instead whispering over and over, "I am your friend," all the while feverishly translating the inmates' criticisms from English to Spanish. According to Stodder-Caldwell, after the tribunal, the punished woman was forced to sit at a school desk in a corner, 16 hours a day, for a period of weeks, with no communication and only limited food and bathroom breaks. It was watching the unfortunate woman "doing her best to hold on," day after day, "tears streaming down her face," that finally led Stodder-Caldwell to contact Howard. The woman suffered further punishment, according to Stodder-Caldwell, by having five months of her six-month SAFPF program revoked. Then she was transferred back to county jail, then back to Halbert for yet another stint in SAFPF, where she remains.
Standard Operating Policy

The difference between the inmate accounts and Gateway's official description of its program is dramatic. Darcy characterized inmate descriptions of tighthouse as inaccurate and "very bizarre." "The information given to you about a Tighthouse is false," Darcy wrote in his e-mail, explaining that an official program tighthouse lasts four hours, with breaks, according to a written "standard operating policy" approved by TDCJ. Women "may change rooms depending on the group," he wrote, noting "chairs are provided for all clients to write and complete assignments." In Darcy's judgment, the collective therapy practice employed at SAFPF facilities as "tighthouse" serves a worthwhile purpose: "This is a learning experience that stresses all clients of the treatment community have responsibility not only for themselves," he wrote, "but for the community as a whole." (TDCJ officials declined to answer questions about the SAFPF program or any policy concerning it.)

Concerning inmates' general accusations of abuse, Darcy insisted in a telephone interview that "staff are not allowed to abuse clients," adding that inmates may file complaints with SAFPF officers. When told inmates say that even formal grievances go nowhere, Darcy changed course, stating inmates could complain to Gateway directly, as well as to guards. Categorically defending SAFPF, Darcy also wrote, "I would urge you to visit a program to see the remarkable work that TDCJ is doing to reduce recidivism, saving the taxpayers of Texas a substantial amount of money."

Asked about inmates' medical complaints, Darcy reiterated his distinction – that Gateway is responsible for inmate rehabilitation, while TDCJ is responsible for inmate health care. The two separate roles better not be "bundled up" in an article, he warned. However, inmates report that for them the line is often blurred between Gateway and TDCJ staff and that disagreements between the two groups of officials about appropriate policy concerning medical care as well as other matters lead to confusion and distress among inmates. "I am always afraid," wrote one inmate. "TDCJ has a strict set of rules that are clearly defined. ... Gateway has a separate set of rules that are neither concrete nor provided. The Gateway rules change from counselor to counselor, and from day to day. The counselors are fond of saying: 'Nothing's constant at SAFPF but change.'"

As of May 12, TDCJ staff continued to decline comment because of the open investigation. "We don't correspond back and forth about an investigation or an alleged investigation. It's best you talk to [Inspector General] John Moriarty," said TDCJ media representative Jason Clark, who declined to review inmate allegations. Moriarty, on the other hand, seemed unaware of the precise substance of the allegations he is charged with investigating. He said inspectors had turned up no evidence that the women are required to "stand" for long periods of time. When informed the charge was that they had to sit, not stand, he scoffed, "Stand or sit? I don't have the report in front of me." Moriarty also claimed, incorrectly, that the women had alleged they weren't allowed to use the bathroom, raising the question of how much he even knows about the findings and therefore how he was able to make a sound judgment of the validity of the preliminary conclusion of no abuse.

Upset that the inspector general would reflexively side with Gateway and TDCJ, Stod­der-Caldwell was nonetheless resolute, insisting that she and the other inmates are telling the truth. "I'm not surprised at all, because they have so much to cover up," she said. "If the public knew what went on in there, how would [the staff] defend their actions?"
Awaiting Retaliation

In the aftermath of the allegations, the stakes for current or former SAFPF inmates remain very high. Inmates say they are careful to walk the line even after they've left SAFPF and are worried that speaking out will lead to retaliation, perhaps including revocation of their parole or probation. Could the fear of retaliation be a possible explanation why women "no longer under the care and control of Gateway," in Moriarty's words, failed to corroborate others' allegations to the inspector general? Moriarty declined comment.

Now that the inspector general investigation is nearly concluded, there could also be severe consequences for still-incarcerated SAFPF inmates. "If the warden and counselors have no consequences, they will come down on the girls with a vengeance," said Ken Caldwell, Jodi Stodder-Caldwell's husband.

As to Moriarty's preliminary assertion that no abuse was found to have occurred, Stodder-Caldwell replied: "Oh, please! It happens on a daily basis." She's especially disheartened that her friend who'd been punched in the face is now right back where she was so mistreated, enduring another six-month stint in SAFPF. 

Copyright © 2008 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2008, 11:58:45 PM by Antigen »
"Don\'t let the past remind us of what we are not now."
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Offline Awake

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2008, 12:16:57 AM »
Yeah, I posted this too on the CEDU thread. The crash erased me from Fornits altogether so I had to be born again. TX is scary. I think they're gonna be experimenting with these "reform" methods more and more. They just started a new DWI program that is rap style and described as "very intensive" and requires a year of attendance. I plan to keep my eye on it. That SAFPF story is disheartening to say the least. The beast is just entering new territory.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline 3xsaSeedling

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2008, 03:37:27 PM »
this is the topic Ursus posted:
i mentioned it in the shoutbox yesterday.
it sounds like the endless days of group from back in theSeed.

My circ's are a bit different maybe, Awake.
While ALL these methods apply to all of us,
in one way or another, when the door shut
with me on the outside, I never looked back.
I spent the next 30-odd yrs staying as stoned as i could,
trying to 'carry-on'.  Running on feelings.  Staying
'out of my head'.  Feelings are good things.
We all need to use our brains, no matter how
it goes.  Otherwise, we're just sheople.

I still feel brainwashed.
theSeed messed me up so much, i never even knew
i had been/am brainwashed
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Of all the things I\'ve ever lost, I miss my mind the most.
Wait...I found \'IT\'!!    
oh joy

"Fresh baked daily!"

Offline Dr. Miller Newton

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2008, 02:34:17 PM »
Druggie ingrates!  After all we've done for you......
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Teenage Drug Use Is A Disease

Offline Anne Bonney

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2008, 02:35:19 PM »
Quote from: "Dr. Miller Newton"
Druggie ingrates!  After all we've done for to you......



FTFY
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
traight, St. Pete, early 80s
AA is a cult http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult.html

The more boring a child is, the more the parents, when showing off the child, receive adulation for being good parents-- because they have a tame child-creature in their house.  ~~  Frank Zappa

Offline Awake

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2008, 01:25:45 PM »
Might as well post this here. The continuation of Rulands' article at the top of this thread

Will 'SAFE-P' and TDCJ Be Held Accountable?
BY PATRICIA J. RULAND





Illustration by Craig StaggsA SAFPF day of reckoning may be at hand.

In response to a May 23 Chronicle report – "Rehabilitation or Torture?" – that recounted inmate stories of abusive treatment in a substance-abuse program operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a legislative committee is planning hearings to review the program. According to Larance Coleman, speaking on behalf of Sen. John Whitmire, Criminal Justice Committee chair, the CJC will hold hearings on the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facilities (also known as SAFPF or "Safe-P"), operated by the Chicago-based Gateway Foundation under a contract worth, according to TDCJ, $38 million over five years. "We will concentrate on Safe-P programming," Coleman said of the hearings, tentatively scheduled for September, to evaluate the $234 million the Legislature appropriated last session for TDCJ rehabilitation programs. The state proposes to increase SAFPF funding by $63.1 million during 2008-09, although Gateway may not be the only vendor considered. The exact dates of the hearings will be announced two to three weeks in advance on www.senate.state.tx.us.

In January, then-inmate Jodi Stodder-Caldwell persuaded others at the TDJC's Ellen Halbert Unit in Burnet County to record their SAFPF experiences in letters submitted to Austin lawyer Derek Howard, who's considering legal action. According to numerous inmate narratives from Halbert and other units, the SAFPF program – in theory a substance-abuse treatment alternative to hard prison time – instead relies heavily on dubious forms of psychological and physical abuse. Several inmates describe a group punishment known as "tighthouse," during which inmates are forced to sit upright in plastic chairs, unmoving and silent, for as long as 16 hours a day and for weeks to months on end – a "mind-crushing" form of cruelty that has resulted in mental breakdowns and suicide attempts. The accounts also report that SAFPF inmates must routinely attack each other psychologically during an abusive form of "group therapy," while staff bellow that they are worthless.

Moreover, inmates charge that their real medical needs are subject to denial or dismissal; Gateway's response is that medical care is the responsibility of the TDCJ, not the contractor. Staff are said to dismiss untreated medical conditions, some as severe as epilepsy or cancer, with taunts or advice to "drink more water." [Former] inmate Tracey Atherton, in a narrative dated May 23, describes the callous manner in which "the guards talk about inmates who are sick. ... I heard one of the guards say: 'That fucking bitch is having a seizure.' Everything that Jodi Stodder stated is true."

There are dissenting voices, however. Shirley Otto, a SAFPF inmate in 1995 and currently a Gateway counselor working at the Hackberry Unit in Gatesville, wrote that after living on the streets, she learned "to live again" through SAFPF. She described tighthouse as "a timeout for grown-ups," with breaks for "chow" and therapy, and she accused complaining inmates of not wanting recovery. "They are looking for an easier, softer way," Otto wrote. "Somehow, some way, they missed the blessing of SAFP."

Judging from official responses thus far, the inmates may indeed find it difficult to convince the Legislature that the abuses they have chronicled are real. When the Office of Inspector General sent investigators to Halbert to interview inmates, Stodder-Caldwell told the Chronicle, investigators seemed receptive at first but turned increasingly "rude." Officially, the OIG investigation remains open, but asked in May about the results of his review, Inspector General John Moriarty said that the alleged abuses had in fact not occurred. Gateway President and CEO Michael Darcy called the inmates' descriptions of tighthouse "bizarre" and untrue, and declined to respond to the Chronicle story.

According to more recent inmate accounts, Halbert staff are aware of the public controversy but unafraid of retribution. "We were told if the lawsuit happens, what or who would give 'dope fiends like us' help?" wrote Brenda Carroll on June 5. Carroll says that she'd been forced to wet herself because an "expeditor" (a ranking inmate in the SAFPF "therapy" program) had denied her request to go to the restroom. "I was also forced to sit in the box [a solitary chair] ... for not being aware of my 'need.'" (I.G. Moriarty expressly rejected allegations that inmates are deprived of bathroom breaks.)

The SAFPF "therapy" model is based upon a practice known as "therapeutic communities," which had its origins in a Sixties-era California drug-abuse program called Synanon. Critics and proponents alike date the peer-based TC methods to the "attack therapy" popularized by Charles Dederich in the Santa Monica-based Synanon, which eventually degenerated into a brutal and murderous cult, as reported in a 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning exposι in the Point Reyes Light by then-publisher Dave Mitchell. "It's unfortunate that Synanon became the model for therapeutic communities; basically a large portion of drug treatment is based on a cult," Mitchell said in an interview. Synanon was eventually shut down by the authorities, in part because in addition to abuse of patients, staff were assaulting defectors from the program and threatening detractors with death.

Available for committee testimony should be survivors of other disgraced programs that operate on the therapeutic communities model. Some said they would testify just how closely the SAFPF accounts resonate with their own victimization in TCs incubated at Synanon. "The women [in SAFPF] have charged they must often sit silently, rigidly, face-forward, in plastic chairs for long hours or days, occasionally through periods of weeks on end. This was true of Straight, Inc. as well," wrote Shelby Earnshaw, director of a survivor support group, the International Survivors Action Committee (www.isaccorp.org) in an e-mail. Tony Connelly, now in his 30s, told the Chronicle that he still hears in his mind the sound of kids being abused at another Synanon-style TC facility, Kids Helping Kids, where he was a patient/inmate from the age of 14 to 16. Connelly says children were required to sit for hours on donated church pews – sometimes held down by "peers" and their noses pinched so they couldn't breathe. Connelly recalled, "The sitting, the rigid posture, the staring at the wall, the limited showers and restroom breaks are all familiar to me. The forced confessions, the demeaning attacks ... requiring inmates to report infractions of other inmates or face punishment are all too vivid to me." Connelly added that the authorities count on the public dismissing such complaints because they come from addicts or former addicts.

"All therapeutic communities have their origins in Synanon," acknowledged Austin criminologist Martin La Barbera. But after Synanon's demise, La Barbera says, professionals revived and refined a good idea – peer therapy – into modern-day TCs. In the 1990s, Gov. Ann Richards appointed La Barbera to the committee that would incorporate the TC model into her prison reform initiatives. This was the "Golden Age," he said, when Texas set the standard for the nation. "All beds were to be treatment beds," was Richards' directive, La Barbera says. At the same time, however, the name "Substance Abuse Felony Punishment" was coined, possibly to indicate rehabilitation would still involve retributive justice. "But I do not believe that 'punishment' was ever Gov. Richards' goal," La Barbera contends.*

When Richards left office, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice absorbed all rehab duties and dispensed with La Barbera's services. Still a consultant to prison systems elsewhere, La Barbera contends that despite its origins, the TC model has saved lives and spared many people considerable pain and suffering. "I don't want the baby to be thrown out with the bathwater," he argues. "TCs are powerful. As with anything that is powerful, the power can be directed for good or misdirected."

If he were to testify, La Barbera says he would urge the Legislature to insure that all SAFPFs meet "fidelity" – a strict set of guidelines insuring TC practitioners have the "right attitude" above all else. He would also recommend intensive "immersion" training, in which authorities and staff experience what inmates will experience. "If you don't meet fidelity ... then it's a crapshoot," La Barbera says.

For her part, Stodder-Caldwell sees no redeeming qualities to the TC model. "It is a program of contradictions, where it is almost impossible to do the right thing. 'Attack therapy' is only a form of psychological violence and abuse," Stodder-Caldwell said. She says she will urge legislators to divert the millions sent to Gateway – which provides only "counseling," as the state picks up the tab for housing, food, clothing, and GED education – to pay for vocational and computer training instead. "These opportunities are not provided in SAFPF. Therefore, in reality a person leaves in much the same situation as they came in – broke and unemployable," Stodder-Caldwell says.

The Legislature is not likely to hear public testimony from SAFPF staff who fear retribution. In an e-mail, one respondent to the Chronicle article wrote, "I love my job there and feel I am one of the few people who work there who 'give the offenders a voice.' ... But if Gateway claims that the inmates are (and were) in chairs for only four hours a day, that is a lie. ... What are your plans at this point to hold Gateway accountable?"

That will be the challenge for the Criminal Justice Committee.

*[The original version of this story mistakenly attributed the coining of the name "Substance Abuse Felony Punishment" to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice when it was in fact coined during Gov. Richards' administration. The Chronicle regrets the error.]

http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase ... d%3A645915
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline 3xsaSeedling

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2008, 11:08:17 PM »
Well that works...
let's get a lawyer, sue, and we'll be the
richest inmates...
Beyond how absurd the entire idea is,
or that it will work;
The time from our lives that has been taken
can never be replaced.

Personally:   :moon: :bs: 

You have ALWAYS gone to your [email protected]
to eat your food, sleep in your own bed,
with your own family; and no one has EVER violated
YOUR sanctuary.

you'll never fool me again
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Of all the things I\'ve ever lost, I miss my mind the most.
Wait...I found \'IT\'!!    
oh joy

"Fresh baked daily!"

Offline psy

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2008, 09:42:40 PM »
bump
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Benchmark Young Adult School - bad place [archive.org link]
Sue Scheff Truth - Blog on Sue Scheff
"Our services are free; we do not make a profit. Parents of troubled teens ourselves, PURE strives to create a safe haven of truth and reality." - Sue Scheff - August 13th, 2007 (fukkin surreal)

Offline 001010

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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
[size=79]EST (Landmark/Lifespring/Discovery) \'83
Salesmanship Club \'84-\'86
Straight, Inc. \'86-\'88[/size]

Offline 001010

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2009, 02:12:10 PM »
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
[size=79]EST (Landmark/Lifespring/Discovery) \'83
Salesmanship Club \'84-\'86
Straight, Inc. \'86-\'88[/size]

Offline 001010

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2009, 02:18:09 PM »
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
[size=79]EST (Landmark/Lifespring/Discovery) \'83
Salesmanship Club \'84-\'86
Straight, Inc. \'86-\'88[/size]

Offline wdtony

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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
Pathway Family Center Truth = http://www.pfctruth.com

dragonfly

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Re: Straight, Inc. in Texas prisons
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2011, 07:24:27 AM »
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »