Diamond Ranch Academy Survivor Survey – Devyn S.
Date of Submission: 08-23-15
Do you wish to grant further testimony to investigators? – Please contact me with further information.
Age and year of admittance – I was 16 years old in the year of 2009.
How long was your stay at D.R.A.? – 7 months
How long have you been back home? – I never went back home after the program I was left to find my own housing at age 17. I ended up staying with a friend until I was old enough to sign for my own home.
Did you graduate from DRA? – No my parents pulled me when they kept wanting more money and started to understand what I tried to explain to then during there visits.
Before the program did you have a serious drug problem? Please describe severity – I never used drugs before this program. Other than trying weed once. Drugs were not ever a problem for me before DRA.
Before the program were you admitted to any other residential treatment, for instance a mental hospital? – No, DRA was the first place I was ever sent to. No mental hospital either nothing of the sort.
Before the program did you have a criminal record or spend time in Juvenile Hall? – No I didn’t have a record or any criminal history what so ever.
Where you court ordered, or did your parents choose to send you to DRA? – My parents choose to send me.
Did you consent to treatment at DRA? Did you sign a contract? – I did not sign a contact. My dad had signed all the paperwork when he admitted me.
Was there a medical admissions process? Please describe – The only mandatory medical intake was a pap smear. Other than that they said that our parents had provided any medical issues if there were any.
Were your medical records considered before you were admitted into DRA? – As long as you weren’t pregnant nothing else was considered in my case. not even my seizure disorder was determining factor.
Were you strip searched? How many times? – Yes, when I first got there and another after every off campus family visit. As well as once when they believed I brought a candy bar back to my room. Which I didn’t and nothing was ever found but boy did they check. So a total of 5 times.
How much was your tuition?
Considering how much your tuition cost, Do you think you were given an adequate education at DRA.? – No, we taught ourselves out of the books. You could just skim threw the chapters and take a test and be done with it. I had a gap in my education. When I went to college I had to get a tutor to go over the same stuff I should have already learned.
In your opinion were the teachers, good teachers? Did they have degrees and certifications? – I’m not sure about there degrees and certifications. I didn’t ask specifically. The teachers were baby sitters to watch us not to teach us.
Were your tests open book, multiple choice tests? Would you consider them easy to pass? – Yes both open book and multiple choice. Very easy to pass but that made it look good to our parents that we were getting threw classes so quickly.
How many school credits did you earn in what period of time? – I’m not sure the exact amount of cridets earned but I do know I finished over a year and a half of school in 6 months.
Did you receive a diploma from DRA? –
Was a certified medical professional available to students at their request? – At our request no. If they believed something was actually wrong with you then you could get seen. Most of the time if you asked for anything they would tell your parents that you continued to manipulate the program.
Were proper check ups, dental cleaning, and medication observation appointments held regularly? – Not one dental check up for me. And the only medical appt was the initial pap smear.
If you got sick were you given adequate treatment and rest? – No when I had a seizure there and brought to the hospital none of my discharge instructions were followed. I was told to rest the remainder of the day but was failed on my day because I wouldn’t to the nightly work out.
Were you ever refused medical care because staff said that you were “faking it”? – Every time I felt I had a medical issue I was told I was faking it. Everytime and my parents were told I was still manipulating the program.
Was a medical service offered for drug detox or drug rehabilitation? – No but I also had no experience prior to DRA.
Was there any kind of “Drug Education” available for students who had used drugs in the past? – The people who had used drugs before DRA just had extra paperwork to do every week. Drug worksheets and printouts.
What is the name of your case manager/ “Therapist”? Did they have degrees/ licenses? What were their qualifications before taking the job at DRA? – I had the only female therapist. And she was new when I got there. I believe her name was Melanie. Im not sure what her qualifications were.
Was group therapy considered to be of a confrontational nature? – Yes, if you had a problem with another client you are suppose to confront them in front of everyone.
Do you feel you were forced to confess to things you did not do in order to progress in the program? – Yes. I told them everything they wanted to hear to move forward in the program and you would to eventually. If the truth wasn’t helping you move forward just give them what they are looking for.
Were students encouraged to accept that they were alcoholics or drug addicts? Was this required to advance in the program? – Not for me because they were clear that’s not what I was sent there for. I didn’t even know what most of the drugs they talked about were.
Were students encouraged to follow a 12 step program in order to earn levels and graduate the program – No they were just told to go to LDS church and conform.
Were students encouraged to accept a “higher power” contingent to their recovery? – Not sure.
In your opinion, How was the food quality? Was it prepared properly? Were safety and health codes followed in the kitchen? – The homeless levels food did not seem safe but the normal meals were adequate.
Did you ever go hungry? Were you given proper portions? Was food ever withheld as a punishment? – I think we were given to much food and forced to eat it. food was never with held from me.
Did you gain a lot of weight? Were you forced to eat more than you were able to eat? – I gained 57 lbs during my 7 month stay. I would puke after having to force feed myself to be able to finish.
Were you ever punished for vomiting? – Yes, if you had to go to the bathroom after you ate you had to count loud in the bathroom so they would know if you were getting sick. They told my parents I had an eating disorder and was making myself throw up on purpose and that wasn’t true my body just had to get used to the food intake.
Please describe the “homeless” (Observation & Assessment) experience. How did you feel about this? – No talking at all. Freezing outside and pulling carts around like we were horses. I remember looking in the sky for air planes just so I knew there was normal life still out there. Carrying around water jugs. And making sure the grounds looked nice. We were there free landscapers. The running on very loose rock that was just laid caused lots of sprained ancles. I got restrained for not smiling in photos that were to be sent home to your parents. No contact threw mail or phone to anyone. Only three bathroom breaks all day and forced to drink over a gallon of water.
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? – Not me
Where you aware of anyone being restrained and isolated from the group? – I was restrained and I saw multiple other girls restrained as well I don’t know all there names and why. We were NOT suppose to talk about it.
What reasons were these people restrained? (please describe actual events) – I wouldn’t smile for a photo going to my parents in the homeless level. They first said they were going to fall me that day if I didn’t and I then raised my hand to answer back and was told I was being a smart ass and he grabbed my arms behind my back bright me to the ground and had his knee on my back until I decided to smile for the picture.
Where stress positions utilized? Were there more time in isolation given if the student would move, cry or speak? – Stress positions?
(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? – I could only call home once a week with a staff present on speaker phone. And before every call I was told of I said anything trying to convince my parents to let me come home or saying it was a bad place they would hand up my call. My letters were opened and sharpened out certain sentences or paragraphs and my mom said my letters to her were as well. We new ours had to get approved to be sent so we made sure if we wanted the letter to go out that we didn’t write anything that would make it be denied . I never wrote to my parents about being restrained I waited until they visited because of the mail rules.
How long before you were able to speak to your parents on the phone? Were your phone calls monitored? – A month before I got my first phone call. And you never ever had a non monitored phone call.
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? – Absolutely not that’s why they had all calls monitored and scheduled. They had everything worked or that’s for sure. If we told our parents what was actually going on they risk getting there money if our parents believe us after they are given up dates of manipulation your first few levels.
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? – Yes. This is why we aren’t allowed to talk to our parents freely on the phone. I knew there would be repercussions if I said anything in front of the staff monitoring the call. I tried once and they hung up on my parents before I could even finish my sentence.
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? – If you didn’t hold other kids accountable you got punished. It’s how they kept us all telling on each other for anything. If you told on someone you got ahead. If you didn’t tell something they knew you knew you got set back.
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? – Yes in homeless level. But even levels after that to be able to get up, go to the bathroom or to throw your empty tray away.
How often were you allowed to speak freely? Were you not allowed to speak with others in your group? – Upper levels. And it depends what lender they were in if you could speak freely to them.
Did you have to walk in line? How often? Were there consequences if you did not line up properly? – Every where we went we walked in a line. Yes you got in trouble if you weren’t straight enough or completely silent when walking.
Would you be given a consequence if you forgot something? (for instance, a pen or a book) – Yes because then someone would have to walk to back to get it. You knew better then to forget something it wasn’t worth getting in terrible. So I double and triple checked every time.
Were your personal items inspected by other students? (upper levels?) without your consent or presence? – Not to me that I know of.
(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? – I never got to upper levels to know everything involved.
What kind of staff responsibilities were upper levels given? – Supervising if you had to go back to the cabin for something.
Were upper levels required to give out consequences, citations or to hold lower levels accountable for minor rule violations? – It was there job to hold lower level accountable or they got in trouble.
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? – They were vague enough that anything they say you better do because they would find somewhere it would fit.
Were you punished/ held back if you chose not to pass out citations, and opted to verbally warn students instead? – You learn the teepee any one under the bus to get ahead. It’s about survival and getting out. You do anything for that.
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? – Not with me
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? – They knew better then to not pretend like everything was perfect there. They had to worry about getting out of there and making the place look good to tours, ect.. was a given.
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 confuted out the hard way to not tell the truth about the program. if you do you don’t move forward and that means you stay there longer so you learn quick to play the game.
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? – Anything could drop you. And they do that so you stay longer and they get more money. So they look for anything to drop you.
What are your opinions of the owners/ Directors of D.R.A? – They were rich and they were loving it.
Do you believe that the program acting within the means of “Tough Love” was appropriate treatment for you in your adolescence? – No I don’t. I still see a therapist to this day for my trust issues and abandedment issues. If my parents knew the truth they would have got me out of there. They still apologize for it now.
Do you believe that the staff and junior staff usually acted within the US standards for health, safety and well being of the students? – They abused there power and treated us like animals.
Considering long term effects, do you think your experience at DRA has an effect on your life today? Positive or negative?A negative effect. I wouldn’t wish that on any child ever. The manipulation of the program for money is just sickening.