Diamond Ranch Academy Survivor Survey – Katlyn
What age were you and what year(s) were you enrolled in Diamond Ranch Academy? – 2005- 15 years old
Did you experience the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process? – Homeless and the “focus center”
How long were you in the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process? – 3 months in homeless and a few days/ weeks off and on in the focus center
What activities were commonly required during the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process? – Homeless-
Yoking up a mule cart
Running until we all throw up
Crocheting a cap
Making fire with a bow drill
Doing projects like those seen in the film Holes- starring Shia LeBoeuf
Filling a bubble in on a bubble test sheet every 5 minutes when a timer would go off to stay “on task”
Sitting in a tiny room on a wooden bench staring at the wall in a shanty little homemade desk constructed solely of disposed lumber
What kind of meals were you served throughout the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process? – The food was terrible. We would get fruit for a snack and we would always eat the entire apple because it was like candy. They would mix the worst rice (I love rice) with old, nasty, extremely sketchy pieces of meat. Sometimes the rice would also have old vegetables in it or whatever else they found lying around. For breakfast we got oats that we could usually mix with water, brown sugar and raisins, with a slice of wheat bread and peanut butter or a hard boiled egg. Breakfast wasn’t too shabby.
Were you ever restrained? Why? – Twice for refusing to do something and talking back
Did you witness restraint? Why was that person restrained? – Seeing other people restrained was the worst. What happened to me was literally nothing. The worst times I saw people restrained they were being taken down and overpowered by 3-6 people, or their faces were smashed into the gravel, or shoulder(s) dislocated. Honestly, watching other people be restrained was horrifying. I remember Robbie Diaz, the owner’s son, throwing this kid down so hard when the boys were passing us outside one day and then watching him keep the boy pinned down for several minutes, shoving his knee into the kid’s back, I’m pretty sure he had either waved at us girls or smiled and laughed about us to one of the other boys in line. Robbie was a scary guy, I saw him restrain girls with the same force he used on the boys.
In your opinion, what was the purpose of the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process? – To break us down and make us appreciate everything we are given. To make us reflect on where we are in life and the fact that everyone has given up on helping you so your only option is to take this help now. To separate us from everything we know so we are brand new in this world and dependent on them for every daily necessity.
What were you told by staff was the purpose of the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process? – To humble us and help us reflect. Some were brutally honest and told us it was to punish us for all we’ve done and help us be wiped clean and ready to be built into a good person.
After you finished the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process, were you ever dropped back down to “homeless” or sent to RFI? – Ya, after I finished homeless I was sent to the focus center a few times. No more than 4-5 times for a few days usually, the longest I stayed was 2 weeks.
Was RFI different than Homeless/ O&A? How? – It was different how I previously mentioned. It was really only the same in the fact that in both we were meant to be in isolation, all privileges stripped, eating slop, waking up every morning at 5am, and doing extreme calisthenics.
Were you strip searched? How many times? – Ya, just once upon arrival and once in the dorm when something went missing.
In your opinion, would you consider this process to be therapeutic? Not at all
Did you experience any medical issues while participating in the Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process?
Were those medical issues properly addressed? – Just constantly throwing up after intense exercise. These issues were never addressed, kids were always throwing up and it was just viewed as having weak endurance.
If you could recommend any changes to DRA’s Homeless/ O&A/ RFI process, what would it be? – To give the kids more comfort and assurance they are safe and what the process will be. When I first came in I was terrified. My escorts dropped me off in the evening and when I was brought in with the other homeless kids I wasn’t even told that I couldn’t talk until I tried asking the girl next to me why we were sitting on the floor in the hallway.
They could allow kids to talk to their parents sooner. I had to wait 3 months to talk to my parents for 5 minutes on speakerphone with my therapist when I finally got inside. I realized shortly in that to work a perfect program meant to stay for a minimum of 8 1/2 months and I began crying so hard I hyperventilated and was taken inside the big building to cry in front of the boys who were inside. Sitting, trying to cover my face on the concrete floor of that tin building and having several families of boys watching me cry was humiliating and defeating. They could do a better job of helping us to want to change, instead of leaving us defeated with working the program as our only option. They could tone down the extensive calisthenics and meaningless labor/ projects they have the kids perform. We built a god damn manmade lake when I was there.
Full Testimony (if provided)
Hey, I did meet Marie Osmond there though.