Diamond Ranch Academy Survivor Survey – Tanner
Date of Submission: 09/12/13
Do you wish to grant further testimony to investigators? – Please contact me with further information.
Age and year of admittance – 16, 2007
How long was your stay at D.R.A.? – Nine Months
How long have you been back home? – Five years
Did you graduate from DRA? – No
Before the program did you have a serious drug problem? Please describe severity – I wouldn’t describe it as “severe”. I was a sixteen year old kid who only smoked pot.
Before the program were you admitted to any other residential treatment, for instance a mental hospital? – Yes
Before the program did you have a criminal record or spend time in Juvenile Hall? – No
Where you court ordered, or did your parents choose to send you to DRA? – The Parentals
Did you consent to treatment at DRA? Did you sign a contract? – No, although a mute point because my parents had the right to send me to to any boarding school they saw fit. Not advocating the hell hole, just acknowledging.
Was there a medical admissions process? Please describe – If you call a poor excuse for a physical and blood being drawn a medical admission process, then sure.
Were your medical records considered before you were admitted into DRA? – No, in fact a prior mental health diagnoses was disregarded entirely during my stay.
Were you strip searched? How many times? – I can’t even count. I was on suicide watch which consisted of being in a lit room watched by two staff members at all times. Every half hour during the night they would wake me up, make me take my one item of clothing off, prove there was nothing on me then they’d let me sleep another half hour.
How much was your tuition? $50,000
Considering how much your tuition cost, Do you think you were given an adequate education at DRA.? –
In your opinion were the teachers, good teachers? Did they have degrees and certifications? – I’m vague on their certifications, none of them really did anything but enforce silence except the science teacher.
Were your tests open book, multiple choice tests? Would you consider them easy to pass? – Yes.
How many school credits did you earn in what period of time? – When I arrived in eleventh gradeI had enough credits to be partially through ninth grade, when I left the program to start my senior year on the outside I was already a quarter through that year of school.
Did you receive a diploma from DRA? – No
Was a certified medical professional available to students at their request? – Nurses, yes. To get to a doctor took some real serious symptoms AKA manipulation.
Were proper check ups, dental cleaning, and medication observation appointments held regularly? – Not at all.
If you got sick were you given adequate treatment and rest? – No, you were basically punished by being put in semi-solitary confinement if you had a flu or something. I had to get a root canal during my stay, and even though I was sobbing from the pain they made me go immediately to their stupid work program where you carry rocks in a line from one place to another.
Were you ever refused medical care because staff said that you were “faking it”? – I wasn’t deemed important enough to see a real psychiatrist because my self mutilations and suicide threats were viewed mainly as manipulations or cries for attention. If only I could have been “faking” bipolar ha.
Was a medical service offered for drug detox or drug rehabilitation? – I didn’t detox personally but from what I observed they basically offered a bed to “sweat it out” like at any free detox facility.
Was there any kind of “Drug Education” available for students who had used drugs in the past? – They had their sad excuse for Narcotics Anonymous, which was nothing like a real Anonymous meeting. That was it though.
What is the name of your case manager/ “Therapist”? Did they have degrees/ licenses? What were their qualifications before taking the job at DRA? – Emphraim, I assume he had a degree, I have no idea what he did prior. My last 3-4 months in the program I didn’t have therapy unless it was the parent call hour every other week.
Was group therapy considered to be of a confrontational nature? – Group Therapy? Like the family phone calls? You’d better avoid being confrontational if you didn’t want to end up in homeless.
Do you feel you were forced to confess to things you did not do in order to progress in the program? – Maybe, the question is coming across unclear to me.
Were students encouraged to accept that they were alcoholics or drug addicts? Was this required to advance in the program? – Not that I remember, I only made it to the third level though and that was because they said I could go home if I did.
Were students encouraged to follow a 12 step program in order to earn levels and graduate the program – No, I don’t think I came across an AA text book the whole time I was there.
Were students encouraged to accept a “higher power” contingent to their recovery? – At the time I felt that I had to be Mormon to get out, or be on the good sides of the owners. The concept of “accepting a higher power as I understood it” was never suggested though.
In your opinion, How was the food quality? Was it prepared properly? Were safety and health codes followed in the kitchen? – I wasn’t in there enough, although eating food out of the bowls off of the dirt in homeless/unemployment definitely seemed insanitary.
Did you ever go hungry? Were you given proper portions? Was food ever withheld as a punishment? – I was always hungry, but I was in good shape. A kid in my group lost over a hundred pounds in a really unhealthy period of time due to standard portioning. Food itself was never withheld as punishment, although quality and nutrients were.
Did you gain a lot of weight? Were you forced to eat more than you were able to eat? – No
Were you ever punished for vomiting? – no
Please describe the “homeless” (Observation & Assessment) experience. How did you feel about this? – I thought it was a cruel process by which they broke our spirits. It could be argued that it was some sort of look into a lifestyle in a penitentiary, but it went to far. A kid Preston tried running in homeless, and refused to eat. They tied a rope around him and another staff member and almost had to administer an IV.
Were upper levels or any level students asked to babysit the staff’s children, or taken to the staff’s house for any extended period of time? – As upper levels they “let us” be their servants at the Christmas party. We acted like monkeys while huge tv’s and other prizes were given out, courtesy of our parents.
Where you aware of anyone being restrained and isolated from the group? – Yes
What reasons were these people restrained? (please describe actual events) – I saw a disagreement in the kitchen and the student through whatever he was holding onto the counter (in a kind of “what ever, screw this” movement) and was restrained. It was not threatening in any sense.
Where stress positions utilized? Were there more time in isolation given if the student would move, cry or speak? – Yes, looking back on it some of the staff almost seemed to have that sadistic need for control and would push until they took total control.
(Please describe the rules and structure that would pertain to a level 1 student.)
Was contact with your parents limited? Where your letters (to and from) intercepted? Were your letters opened, read, crossed out or cut? – Level one students were aloud some crazy visit like 3 hours off campus 4 hours on for 2 days every 6 weeks. It may have been different when I went but all letters were read by staff, then therapists on the way out, then therapists would allow what incoming mail they deemed appropriate through.
How long before you were able to speak to your parents on the phone? Were your phone calls monitored? – My first call was 17 days in (grad from homeless) and I was told “don’t say anything negative at all, or try to manipulate or you’ll go back out to homeless.”
If you felt you were being abused, was there anyway you could get to a phone and have a private conversation with your parents, child services or an officer of the law? – Nope. Maybe the LDS seminary teacher if you were tricky.
If you wanted to leave were you discouraged to tell your parents how you felt? Were you afraid that you would be punished if you were to describe any incidents of abuse to your parents? – Any mention of leaving was turned into how the student is still in their old manipulative behavior and even more proof that you should be there. I did attempt to disclose instances of mistreatment but my therapist would just build up on the idea that I was just trying to get attention.
Were there other students (upper levels) assigned to watch over you? What was their role? Did they give you consequences/ “hold you accountable”? Were they instructed to restrain you or monitor the isolation area, bathrooms and showers? – Upper levels could be out of direct line of site of staff for like 5 min or something so they would transport lower levels from one area to another. Except a certain few kids who wanted out bad enough to sell other people most upper levels in my year kept confidence with the other students. No they weren’t told to restrain, maybe listen to someone count in the shower if that individual was on restrictions though.
Did you have to raise your hand and wait to ask permission from staff (or upper levels) to speak, stand, eat, go to the bathroom and do other normal activities? – Yep.
How often were you allowed to speak freely? Were you not allowed to speak with others in your group? – Other than homeless, I basically said what I wanted. Thus staying at the second level for 8 months.
Did you have to walk in line? How often? Were there consequences if you did not line up properly? – yeah, but usually only during school hours. I don’t remember the consequences, probably a point or something.
Would you be given a consequence if you forgot something? (for instance, a pen or a book) – Points.
Were your personal items inspected by other students? (upper levels?) without your consent or presence? – I can’t remember. I grew accustomed to the fact that I didn’t have privacy in anything so it’s not something I’d have noticed.
(Please describe the rules and structure that would pertain to an “upper level” student.)
What were the requirements in order to progress in the level system? Was approval from the other upper levels required? – upper levels had a little bit more freedom i.e. they could work in the kitchen and go off ranch for special events. They were looked at more strictly and would rack up large demotions if they got caught keeping their mouths shut. to progress you basically had to not get cited a certain number of points for so many weeks, do some busy work assignments, then make a presentation to staff and upper levels to convince them to let you go.
What kind of staff responsibilities were upper levels given? – Kitchen help, office help, those things.
Were upper levels required to give out consequences, citations or to hold lower levels accountable for minor rule violations? – no, not while I was there.
Were the rules upper levels enforced specific to the rule book or were the definitions of those rules assumed? Could rules easily be made up or given under a category that was vague enough to be given out for any number of things? – yes and they did all the time. especially if you fought with a staff a lot. Damn Jonathan.
Were you punished/ held back if you chose not to pass out citations, and opted to verbally warn students instead? – wasn’t instated while I was there.
Did an upper level have to power to influence a child being taken to the isolation room? Were upper levels instructed to watch or participate in restraints? – THEY ENDED UP MAKING A SPECIFIC ROOM FOR RESTRAINTS?!?!?!
Were upper levels required to give visiting parents a glowing testimonial of their experience in the program, or make testimonial videos or letters? Were pre-written scripts required to be read during the filming of promotional videos? – Oh yeah, major brownie points there. Guaranteed you’d go up your next level at least.
What would happen if an upper level student mentioned anything bad about the program in front of a parent? Were students afraid of punishment if they told the truth? – You would go to homeless for almost a week under the pretenses of “lying”. I was in homeless enough for speaking my mind that I’d say afraid isn’t a good word, more so accepting of how unfair it was to do the right thing sometimes.
How easily could an upper level get dropped (start the program over)? What infractions would make an upper level drop and what level did they usually go back to? – to drop from one level to the one directly under it was relatively easy. I only knew one person who restarted the program and they did so because they deposited a certain bodily fluid into someone’s shampoo.
What are your opinions of the owners/ Directors of D.R.A? – They love their football team. They’re incredible business men. Ricky and Robbie are some of the least sincere and most magnificently manipulative people I’ve ever met. Shane was just like the wanna be little bro of those two and acted the same. There were other staff members there that really did change my life in a positive way because they cared. Sadly none of them are left there.
Do you believe that the program acting within the means of “Tough Love” was appropriate treatment for you in your adolescence? – Some tough love, yeah. I needed some regular love though. A hug, any human contact. I liked to watch out for a few of the younger kids and it would kill me seeing them have to cope with just wanting to be home with their families at that age.
Do you believe that the staff and junior staff usually acted within the US standards for health, safety and well being of the students? – usually.
Considering long term effects, do you think your experience at DRA has an effect on your life today? Positive or negative?When I got into DRA I dealt with strictly weed. After nine months of listening to everyone talk about all their wonder drugs of course thats what I wanted to do when I got out and that has caused major problems. I spent 95% of my time there not able to talk to a person of the other gender, which is a crucial aspect in the life of a teenager. I had a girl waiting for me and instead of a healthy relationship we had to put a child up for adoption. After all that time spent institutionalized and with other “bad kids” like myself, I had no useful social skills which landed me in a drug using crowd. I could go on, I hate DRA with a passion reserved for very few things, but I’ll just end it by saying: Negative, definitely.