Author Topic: Unkown Utah Wilderness Program 1999, Brown School San Marcos  (Read 1391 times)

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Offline longtime

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I ran away from home when I was 15. My father had just died and my mother was going through a midlife, batshit crazy crisis involving a boyfriend in prison for double homicide, a man she actually forced me to develop a relationship with, going so far as to bring me to the jail to visit him. At one point the man alluded to mafia contacts he could call to “take care of me” if I were to give my mother any more trouble. Doesn’t get much more charming than threatening a teenager with gang violence.

Crazy you say? Yes. And that’s not even the half of it. But, being a minor, my acting out earned me the labels bipolar and obstinate-defiant. I was subjected to medication I never needed in the first place instead of anyone listening to me, let alone intervening on my behalf. I tried committing suicide 3 times before I even got to this point. Home was not good for me, to say the least.

So I left.

What followed was a three year power struggle that left me broken down and traumatized even further than I already was. The first time I was caught and sent away I was trying to cross the US-Canadian border from Alberta into Montana. The border patrol ran my name and, lo and behold, there I was in an international runaway database. Off to Montana jail I went to be held until they could make other arrangements.

At this point I was still innocent to the troubled teen industry. The escorts who met me at the Salt Lake City airport only told me an “educational consultant” with whom I had never spoken (and to this day have not exchanged a single word with) decided on a wilderness program for me near St. George, Utah. (I can’t be completely certain of the name, I was only there for 4 days.) It would be like camping, they said.

I went willingly. We drove through the night, deep into the high desert to hand me over to staff from the program. My hair stood on end when we pulled over to the side of the road so the escorts could hand me off to program staff. But I ignored the sensation and got into the truck with staff to began the drive.

A half an hour of rocky dirt roads until we stopped at a clearing. The woman to my right got out of the truck and motioned to me to exit. The man driving stayed in the cab running the truck and headlights.

Something felt weird. The woman told me to go in front of the truck and stand in the headlight beams. I did. Then she told me to start taking off my clothes. I went wide-eyed with disbelief. She stepped towards me and repeated the instructions. I had no choice.

The headlights bore down on my shivering 16-year old frame as I stripped to my underwear. The woman came up to start running her hands all over my body to check for contraband. The man stayed in the truck watching. I felt sick. I felt exposed. I felt violated. I had already been searched by the Montana jail, by the airport and by the escorts. I couldn’t understand why they were doing this to me, especially in this way.

At that point I decided I wanted to leave. I told them this the next morning and they laughed at me. They told me everyone says that and no-one had ever succeeded.

I was already determined to get out of there. Then it got worse. I started my period and, instead of giving me tampons, they let me bleed all over myself. So there I was, the only girl in a group of guys, in the middle of the desert wearing blood-soaked pants. Nothing says self-esteem to a teenage girl quite like being covered in your own menstrual blood in front of an all-male group. Each morning I woke, I asked if I was leaving. They said no. So I cursed, flipped them off and started hiking. On the final day I managed to get within 4 miles of the main road. By that time I was so worn out and hysterical from lack of food and blood loss that I got off track, panicked and threatened to break a truck window just so I would get arrested and be taken to jail. Anywhere was better than there.

Instead I was tackled onto the ground and cut up by rocks as I struggled, shrieking under a grown man’s weight.

But my protesting worked: they transferred me out the following day and sent me to a lockdown facility in San Marcos, Texas that was part of The Brown Schools. At first the staff thought I was mentally incompetent due to my outburst in the desert and put me on a unit with low-functioning girls. Within a week they realized I was sporting a hefty intellect and coasting through whatever process they were trying to instill so they transferred me to the smart-but-troubled unit. I kept my head low for the 4 months I was there, followed every rule they placed on me. I watched girls taken down by staff, screaming and thrashing, hauled into the solitary confinement room. One girl went down so hard that she busted her nose and began spraying blood and spit all over the ground with every mangled cry that escaped her throat. Another friend there went into hysterics and the staff placed her in five-point restraints for so long she ended up pissing herself.

I was fine being forced to walk in a straight line with my hands behind my back. I dealt with the forced confessions in group therapy. But the day I nearly died because they wouldn’t give me medical attention was the darkest day I had there.

I’ve suffered from asthma as long as I can remember. Hospitals, nebulizers, prednisone and inhalers were par for the course in my childhood. One night I started getting a little sick and requested inhalers. The nurse gave them to me and checked me after. Since I was breathing OK then she decided I was faking.

The next day my breathing was even tighter. I dropped a communication request card out of my cell and into the hall. I told them I was having an attack and needed my meds. The nurse was on another unit, they said, so I would have to just wait.

In reality, they never called the nurse. It would be another half an hour until anyone attended to me and only because I was limp and unresponsive on the floor.

I dropped the card out again and again and again and again. Staff shouted down the hall to stop. My cellmate watched as I paced around the room wheezing and trying to stay calm. My skin started buzzing and going numb from lack of oxygen. I could barely feel the tears start rolling down my face. I was suffocating. Walking became difficult. The last thing I remember as I lost consciousness was sliding down against the wall and hearing my cell mate’s voice far, far, far, far in the distance (in reality she was right next to me) screaming “HELP! Her lips are blue! Help! Someone help!”

I blacked out.

The next thing I felt was a sharp poke and hands on my body. An oxygen mask went on my face and radio squawks of “CODE BLUE! CODE BLUE!” echoing somewhere. My vision slowly emerged from the darkness. I was on the floor of my cell. They’d revived me with a shot of epinephrine and were trying to feed me prednisone. They pulled the oxygen mask from my face and popped the pill in my mouth. After a breathing treatment I was fully conscious again and wholly pissed off.

Staff apologized to me for the incident but I don’t think I really accepted it. Instead I just nodded and kept on being a good girl on the unit.

After four months, an incredibly short time for that program, they transferred me to a secured halfway house. I had to sign a contract that I would not run away. I gave the place an honest chance until the first time they gave me some arbitrary punishment for the sake of breaking me down. My mother already told me she didn’t want me at home and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stay there. So I took off.

The next night I dressed in black, packed a bag, dropped out a second story window, ran through floodlights and sharp Texas brush to get to the highway. I held my breath as I stuck out my thumb at the first approaching set of headlights thinking Please don’t be staff, please don’t be staff.

It wasn’t staff. I was free again.

My freedom lasted for another eight months. Then one stupid, careless mistake landed me in the worst program I endured in all my time as a “troubled teen.”

[I had to break this up, please look for the Sorenson's Ranch School 2000-2001 thread to read the rest.]
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Inculcated

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Re: Unkown Utah Wilderness Program 1999, Brown School San Ma
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2011, 11:34:41 PM »
You certainly have processed a lot in the time since reading Xandir’s experiences had an intensely emotional effect on you. It makes the appreciated depth and detail of your account all the more impressive. I was moved by these posts.
I looked to the other thread (as you instructed above) to read more. In the interest of continuity, I’ll place a link to that thread here. viewtopic.php?p=401790#p401790
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
“A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free”  Nikos Kazantzakis

Offline Oscar

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Re: Unkown Utah Wilderness Program 1999, Brown School San Ma
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2011, 06:55:22 AM »
The program is perhaps not that unknown. I suspect that it is Ontrack where  Charles "Chase" Moody was killed by staff when they allegedly tried to restrain him. I have heard that the blog Today a child died will include a piece about this incident this fall.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Ursus

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Re: Unkown Utah Wilderness Program 1999, Brown School San Ma
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2011, 10:11:58 AM »
Wow. What a powerful, articulate, and moving story! And so obvious that "rehabilitation" is nowhere to be found in the alleged goals and aims of these particular programs and the affiliated network of support systems (jail, escorts).

Rather, it's all about punishment, degradation and control.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline longtime

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Re: Unkown Utah Wilderness Program 1999, Brown School San Ma
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 01:12:29 PM »
Quote from: "Oscar"
The program is perhaps not that unknown. I suspect that it is Ontrack where  Charles "Chase" Moody was killed by staff when they allegedly tried to restrain him. I have heard that the blog Today a child died will include a piece about this incident this fall.

The wilderness program was based out of Utah, don't think it was at all affiliated with the Brown Schools. I'm not 100% on the name and I don't want to toss accusations if I'm not completely sure.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline longtime

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Re: Unkown Utah Wilderness Program 1999, Brown School San Ma
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2011, 01:14:56 PM »
Quote from: "Inculcated"
You certainly have processed a lot in the time since reading Xandir’s experiences had an intensely emotional effect on you. It makes the appreciated depth and detail of your account all the more impressive. I was moved by these posts.
I looked to the other thread (as you instructed above) to read more. In the interest of continuity, I’ll place a link to that thread here. viewtopic.php?p=401790#p401790

Thank you. It's been more than a decade since all of this happened and I've spent plenty of time processing what happened in therapy sessions. But, I am really surprised at how difficult it was to write even after all of that. This shit has got to stop.
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Offline Inculcated

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Re: Unkown Utah Wilderness Program 1999, Brown School San Ma
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 02:25:30 PM »
I’ll bet it was difficult to write, but I’m glad you did. I am also glad you’re in a better place in life now. I can understand eschewing speculation w/out certitude about the Wilderness program – especially given that it is/was out of Utah. Like finding a needle in a stack of kindling in a desert state-- which has been the last stop in the short life of too many kids who didn’t make it out to make their accounts known-- that would be.

IMHO, it won’t stop, but changing people’s perspectives via awareness seems promising. As you’ve noticed, Xandir is a stellar example of that. Various links to her story have recently been disseminated throughout the internet and even an appearance at a non TTI specific venue has likely opened some hearts and minds.

I mention this not only because you had mentioned Xandir, but also that you have been so exquisitely capable of composing your account of these many harrowing experiences in such a way that even those not familiar w/ TTI (who may not be aware of the TTI or in many cases not even aware of their biased assumptions about these many programs and their place in our society) can readily connect with.
This is impressive.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
“A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free”  Nikos Kazantzakis