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The State of the Art: The Malcolms’ Examination of Straight, Incorporated, Timeline

Updated: Aug 29

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a five-part series from Marcus Chatfield, a regular contributor to Points. Here he offers a timeline of key events and news articles in the history of Straight, Inc., the controversial adolescent drug treatment program that existed from 1976 to 1993. Thank you Marcus for bringing this series to Points!

November, 1980 – Opening Day, Sarasota facility.


1/4/1981 – Sarasota Herald-Tribune begins series on Straight, featuring Dr. Robert DuPont (White House Drug Policy Advisor for Presidents Nixon and Ford, and former Director of NIDA), and his sense of urgency about preventing marijuana use.

1/4/81 – “Former Drug Abusers Share The Holidays At Straight-South Inc. – Straight: Hurt Into Help” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

1/5/81 – “Community Concern Gave Straight Its Start” –  Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“Doctor Discusses The Dangers Of Pot Use” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

“‘Facts’ Change Doctor’s Views On Pot Use” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

1/20/81 – Reagan/Bush Inauguration Day

2/6/81 – Press conference at Sarasota Straight, Dr. Robert DuPont announces Straight’s national expansion: 26 new branches that will cost $18,212,000.00 over 5 years (1982-1986).

2/9/81 – “Straight Inc. Urged To Expand Nationwide” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

2/10/81 –  “Straight Inc. Directors Mull Nationwide Expansion” – Sarasota Journal

7/6/81 –  “Growing Straight Inc Remains Controversial” – St. Petersburg Times

7/7/81 –  “Tough Love Makes Straight Successful, 2 Graduates Say…Another Youth    Tells of Threats and Intimidation” – St. Petersburg Times

7/30/81 –  “Drug Rehabilitation Center Will Help Users Go Straight” – Atlanta Constitution

8/2/81 – “Straight, Inc Coming to Cobb to Help Free Teens From Drugs”– Marietta Daily Journal

8/5/81 – Betty Sembler (wife of Straight’s founding president, Mel Sembler) letter to Carlton Turner (White House Drug Policy Advisor), confirming his future participation in the “Awareness Program” and inviting him for dinner with Dr. DuPont in Washington, D.C. (p. 1).

8/15/81 – Opening Day, Atlanta facility.

8/20/81 – Malcolms arrive for 6-day assessment of St.Petersburg facility (p. 3).

8/25/81 – Carlton Turner letter to Betty Sembler, accepting dinner invitation (p. 2). / Malcolms complete their study of Straight.

9/5/81 – Malcolms’ report, An Examination of Straight Incorporated, is completed (p. 32).

9/9/81 – “Drug Abuse Program Turned Markhams Into True Believers” – Cincinnati Enquirer

9/21/81 – Semblers, DuPonts, and Turners dinner date

9/24/81 – “Straight: Teens Finding Freedom From Drugs” – Marietta Daily Journal

9/25/81 – Richard Hayman (Chair, Straight Northern Virginia Organizing Committee), letter to Carlton Turner about future Washington, D.C. area program: “DuPont is urging us to expand nationally” (p. 3).

10/16/81 – Carlton Turner attends Friday night Open Meeting at St. Petersburg facility (p. 7).

10/17/81 – Straight’s first annual Awareness Banquet, DuPont announces: Straight is the best (Trebach, 1987).

10/26/81 – James Hartz letter to Carlton Turner, thanking him for the visit; mentions promotional material enclosed with letter (p. 8).

11/6/81 – Carlton Turner letter to Hartz: “you’ve demonstrated that the private sector works and works well” (p. 13).

11/10/81 – “First-Hand Experience Leads Board Member to Fight Drugs” – Marietta Daily Journal

11/15/81 –  “Fighting Drugs: School Assessment Commendable” – Marietta Daily Journal

11/17/81- “Fighting Drug Abuse: School Officials Discuss Role in Solving Problem”– Marietta Daily Journal

11/21/81 –  “Parents Involved Before Enrollment” – Cincinnati Post

“Helping Kids Get Straight” -Cincinnati Post

“Kids Helping Kids” – Cincinnati Post

11/22/81 –  “Straight Head Tells About Drug Program”– Marietta Daily Journal

“No More Drugs: Former Users Go Straight”– Marietta Daily Journal

12/22/81 –  “Drug Program Official Named” – Sarasota Journal

12/23/81 – James Hartz (Straight’s National Director), asks Carlton Turner for an official endorsement for Straight’s “Solicitation Presentation” (p. 17-18), mentions letters from DuPont and Malcolms: “The impact of a package such as ours is perceptibly enhanced by this type of verification” (p. 15).

12/26/81 – Malcolms’ endorsement letter to Hartz, praising Straight and their national expansion: “We suspect that money is going to be forthcoming, from diverse sources, for a programme as enlightened and as nationally necessary as is that of Straight” (p. 35-37).


1/5/82 – “Drug Center Opens” – Cincinnati Post

1/6/82 – Opening Day, Cincinnati facility.

  1. “Drug Program Moves Today Into Tri-State” – Cincinnati Enquirer

1/15/82 – Mel Sembler (Straight’s founding President), sends Malcolms’ endorsement letter to Carlton Turner (p. 20).

1/31/82 – “Drug Center Accused of Holding Five” – Atlanta Constitution

2/1/82 –  “ACLU, Drug Center in Court Thursday” – Marietta Daily Journal

2/3/82 –  “Georgia Suit: Straight Inc. Illegally Detaining 5” – St. Petersburg Times

2/4/82 – Atlanta chapter of the ACLU sues Atlanta Straight for false imprisonment, abuse.

“Drug Facility Hearing Closed to the Public” – Atlanta Journal

“Judge Robinson to Rule on Straight Suit” – Marietta Daily Journal

2/5/82 –  “Panel To Investigate Charges Teens Forcibly Held at Drug Center” – Atlanta Journal

  1. “Straight: ACLU, Drug Program Form Study Committee” – Marietta Daily Journal

  2. “Former Drug User, 18, Praises Treatment Plan” – Marietta Daily Journal

2/7/82 –  “Drug Center Wins Respite In Court, But The Heated Debate Continues” – Atlanta Constitution

2/15/82 –  “Nancy Reagan Begins Journey to Battle Drugs” – Atlanta Journal

“Nancy Turns Spotlight on Drug Abuse” – Marietta Daily Journal

2/16/82 – Nancy Reagan visits St. Petersburg facility.

  1. “First Lady Hears Teen Drug Stories” – Atlanta Journal

  2. “Mrs Reagan: ‘Nothing as Painful’ As seeing Youngsters’ Drug Abuse”– Marietta Daily Journal

  3. “First Lady Visits St. Petersburg In Her Fight Against Drug Abuse” – Sarasota Journal

  4. “Drug Program to Open Facility in Washington” – St. Petersburg Times

  5. “Youths Pour Out Stories Of Drug Use” – Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, VA

2/17/82 –   “A Worthwhile Tour” – Atlanta Journal

  1. “Mrs. Reagan Vows to Keep Up Drug Battle” – Atlanta Journal

2/18/82 –  “Nancy Enters War Against Drugs” – Sarasota Journal

2/19/82 – James Hartz letter to Carlton Turner thanking him for “his part” in arranging the visit by Nancy Reagan (p. 22). / William Case (Straight’s Treasurer), letter to Carlton Turner: “nice to see you again Monday” (p. 23).

Mid-March, 1982 – Cincinnati chapter of the ACLU files complaints with Ohio Bureau of Drug Abuse about “coercion and brainwashing,” asks for state investigation of Cincinnati Straight.

3/18/82 – “Father Drops Suit Against Drug Center” – Cincinnati Post

4/3/82 – Three news articles in Cincinnati Enquirer: (1.) first public mention of ACLU complaints and possible state investigation (2.) Article featuring favorable descriptions of the program (3.) Only known public mention of Malcolms’ report: “cleared Straight of brainwashing.”

  1. “State May Probe Complaints Aired On Drug Program” – Cincinnati Enquirer

  2. “Teens In Program Learn New Values ‘The Hard Way'” – Cincinnati Enquirer

  3. “Experts Have Both Praise, Cautions For Straight” – Cincinnati Enquirer

4/27/82 – “Controversial Drug Program Seeks Money For Expansion” – St. Petersburg Times

5/12/82 – Carlton Turner praises Straight at fundraising banquet attended by Florida State Attorney General, Jim Smith, and several state representatives.

5/13/82 – Three newspaper articles: (1.) Client complaints about abuses in Straight (2.) More client complaints (3.) Announcing Carlton Turner’s praise for Straight at fundraiser.

  1. “Teen Claims She Was Forced Into Straight” – Cincinnati Enquirer

  2. “Drug Rehabilitation Forced Woman Says” – Cincinnati Post

  3. “Reagan’s Drug Abuse Advisor Praises Straight at Banquet” – St. Petersburg Times

5/14/82 – State confirms it will investigate Cincinnati facility based on ACLU complaints. / James Hartz letter to Carlton Turner thanking him for his words and support at Straight banquet: “We are most grateful to your good offices in helping us over some rough spots during the past few months. The visit by Nancy Reagan has been a beacon to us all” (p. 24).

  1. “Complaints Triggered Probe of Center” – Cincinnati Post

  2. “ACLU Says Complaints Prompted Probe” – Cincinnati Post

5/16/82 – “Drug Treatment Center Cleared of Wrongdoing” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

5/18/82 – Carlton Turner to James Hartz: “your efforts are appreciated and I know you will continue the good work” (p. 25).

5/20/82 – “Sara Kane, Straight Inc.” memo to Carlton Turner: “Just thought you might like to be updated on the Atlanta situation,” with May 16th news article (p. 26).

5/22/82 – “Father Drops Criminal Charges Against His Teen-Aged Daughter” – Cincinnati Enquirer

5/24/82 – Congressman, Frank Wolf (R-VA10, 1981-2014) enters praise for Straight in congressional record, mentions need for funding (p. 29).

6/1/82 – Dave Stottlemyer (Office of Vice President, George Bush) memo to Carlton Turner regarding development of Washington, D.C. area Straight facility in Springfield, VA: “getting politicos on board,” refers to example of Frank Wolf in Congressional record and mentions a plan “we have developed” (p. 28).

6/14/82 – Carlton Turner sends letter to Virgil Miller Newton thanking him for visiting (p. 30).

6/22/82 – “Rehabilitation Center Cleared” – Cincinnati Post

  1. “State Investigators Clear Straight of Abuse Charges” – Mount Washington Press

6/23/82 –  “State Bureau Approves Straight Inc. Drug Program” – Cincinnati Enquirer

6/29/82 – C. Wayne Kayser (Straight’s Director of Development), letter to Carlton Turner: media coverage “accorded to a project of this type” during awareness weekend was unprecedented, gratitude for support (p. 32).

7/8/82 – “State Agency Gives Straight Inc Good Marks” – St. Petersburg Times

7/14/82 –  “Straight Drug Cure Program Headed Here” – Washington Post

  1. “Parents At Odds Over Success Of Straight’s Therapy” – Washington Post

7/28/82 –  “Straight To Open Area Chapter” – Washington Post

8/20/82 –  “Woman Sues Husband, Straight Inc.” – Cincinnati Enquirer

8/24/82 –  “Straight Drug Treatment Program Is Recommended For Fairfax Branch” – Washington Post

9/8/82 –  “County Health Board Asks Study Of Straight Program” – Washington Post

9/14/82 – “Straight Inc. Drug Treatment Unit Wins Approval Of Fairfax Board” – Washington Post

9/15/82 – “Loveland Boy Leaves Straight, Placed In Custody of His Mother” – Cincinnati Enquirer

  1. “Woman’s Child-Theft Charge Dropped” Cincinnati Post

9/16/82 – “Six People Snatched Youth 14” – Cincinnati Enquirer

9/17/82 –  “Father Suspects Brainwashing Made Son Fear Drug Program” – Cincinnati Enquirer

10/1/82 –  “Straight Called Answer To Drug Crisis” – Cincinnati Enquirer

  1. “Straight Called Model Drug Abuse Plan” – Cincinnati Post

10/28/82 – Opening Day, Springfield, VA facility.

11/2/82 – “Investigation Clears Straight Inc. Of Any Wrongdoing” – Cincinnati Enquirer

11/6/82 – “Straight Director Resigns” – Cincinnati Post

12/2/82 –  “Florida-Based Straight Drug Rehab Center Sued” – Tampa Tribune

  1. “Fairfax Man Charges Firm Brainwashes Drug Users” – Washington Post

12/3/82 – “Class-Action Suit Claims Straight Inc. Abused Patients” – St. Petersburg Times

12/8/82 –  “Treatment Center Denies ‘Brainwashing’ Tactics” – Washington Post

12/11/82 –  “Drug Program Told To Allow Lawyer Access” – Washington Post

12/13/82 –  “Losing Identity – And A Lot More” – Cincinnati Post

  1. “Rehabilitation Program Grows Despite Controversy” – Cincinnati Post

12/14/82 –  “Teens Recall Drug Days As Nightmare” – Cincinnati Post

12/15/82 –  “Parents Find Hope” – Cincinnati Post

12/16/82 –  “Youths, Parents Bare Souls At Straight” – Cincinnati Post

12/17/82 –  “Parent-Child Meetings Bare Family’s Agony” Cincinnati Post

  1. “Challenging Straight” – Cincinnati Post

  2. “What It Costs Parents To Get Youth Off Drugs” – Cincinnati Post

#Drugtreatment #Treatment #Americandrughistory #StraightInc #Addiction

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