My name is Josh. I live in New Jersey and I was sent away to Diamond Ranch Academy in January of 2011. I graduated the program after 9 months. The experience was incredibly frightening and I have nightmares about the place almost every night. Please, feel free to ask my anything about this experience.
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Hey Josh, So sorry to hear you have so many nightmares. I know a kid about to get sent there, would you consider writing about some of the worst things about this place and experiences that stick out to you for the parents? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If it is too much, don’t worry about it.
When you enter the program, you being in a stage called O&A. Here, you cannot talk, sit, walk, make noise, spit, eat, stand up, etc. without permission. You must pass 14 full days and complete 14 assignments to get into the actual program. O&A is very difficult, and is used also as punishment for students in the actual program. I do not believe they really use Red and Yellow camp anymore. And yes, they are currently building a new facility in the town of Hurricane. This new facility will hold more students. The old facility will probably be used for O&A.
I understand based on information on Fornits Wiki that newcomers start in either Red Camp or Yellow Camp depending on their gender. What kind of tools do they use in these camps located just outside their present campus to break the newcomers? Is it anything like Roundy at Turnabout where the newcomers have to stay all day inside a stone circle until they confess to some kind of sinds?
Second I understand that they are constructing a second campus south of the city and west in relationship with the present campus? Did you learn something about new campus?
Did they make you write a letter confessing your sins then use it as ammunition against you with your parents later? Was there any one on one counseling? and if so was it kept strictly confidential? Was food ever withheld or changed as punishment?
They made us write an apology letter in order to advance each letter, yes. There was one on one counseling for 45 minutes every other week. Being sent to O&A was a punishment and in O&A you are pretty much always hungry. The food served in O&A is usually just old food served to the kids in the actual program mixed together. Sometimes the goulashes are just disgusting, for example, beef stew and lasagna with random fruits.
Nice to meet you, and I’m sorry you had to go through that. Do they still use “homeless” as a punishment, ie, keeping a kid separated from the group and living outdoors for several days?
Yes, all the time. However, they have renamed Homeless to “O&A” (Observation and Assessment).
Thanks for posting, your timing was perfect. Tonight, on national radio, Mark Levine was talking to a mother who’s daughter is in danger of being sent to Diamond Ranch against her wishes. He read part of your post on air! http://marklevine.tv/patrick-is-free/, it’s towards the end, in the last 20 min of the show.
Wow, this is great! I never expected this to actually get any attention haha.
Josh, when I was in a program I was brainwashed. Do you think that DRA uses brainwashing techniques to control kids at that program? What are the worst things that you witnessed or experienced at DRA? I hate to ask, but people need to know what happens in there. It took me many years to talk about what they did to us in there, so I understand how brutal it can be to remember and relive this….but if you are okay talking about it, parents need to know what does and can happen in DRA. Why the nightmares, for instance? Why was it incredibly frightening? Thanks for your responses by the way, they have already helped!
I do think that DRA does do quite a bit of manipulating and stuck “brainwashing.” During my 9 month stay there, I saw some pretty awful things. On several occasions, I saw students urinate/defecate in their pants because they were not allowed to use the restroom. I have seen kids ripped out of their desks and brought to the ground by multiple staff members for simply using a curse word, and usually for a good reason. One of the worst experiences that I saw was a student being physically restrained for several hours. He was brought upstairs and all the rest of the students hear was the student screaming t the top of his lungs and crying. When he was brought back to the rest of the students after several hours, he had a massive rug burn mark on his face and a fractured wrist. I have the nightmares quite often, and I believe this is a result of the overall eerie mood of DRA. It was such a horrible experience and I am still scared that at any moment, I could be sent back, even though I am currently abiding by all of the rules my parents have set. What’s most frightening is knowing that no matter what I do, I ultimately have no control. Again, I could be sent back at any moment. Even if there is no legitimate reason for a student being there, they can always have their therapists diagnose a student with a something like Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which would justify pretty much any teenager being there.
I think DRA uses “lighter” brainwashing methods. Not to the degree Straight,the Carlbrook School, or the Elan School used or uses them, but they’re there, yes. In short, DRA is less abusive than a lot of the “troubled teen” cultic lock down facilities, despite the attention it’s getting.
Hi Josh, have you been to the DRA pages on facebook? search on DRA and Diamond Ranch Academy to get current on what we’ve (survivors and friends of survivors) been up to. also PM aaron seymour, nancy turbyfill, chelsea filer and me, sarah garrigues on FB to see the links. you are a brave and strong young man to be will and able to express yourself so well. kudos to you, my young friend. sarah
What happened to you after you completed the program after 9 months? Did your parents tried to use any excuse to dispose of you?
My parents have threatened to send me back, however at this point I have accepted that there really is nothing wrong with my behavior. I am getting all A’s in honors classes at school, have a wide variety of friends, am passing drug tests, staying out of trouble in school, etc. During my time at DRA, my parents didn’t really put in much work to fix the problems in my house, and rather placed the blame on me and sent me away to be “fixed.” Now, that I am not an issue yet there are still issues in the household, they have only themselves to look to for the cause of such issues.
The experience was incredibly frightening and I have nightmares about the place almost every night.
How do you deal with the fact that you have nightmares about the place? You can’t tell your parents about it lest they tell you to “get over it and deal with it”.
I’ve told my parents and they don’t really have much to say about it, I just kinda deal with it.
Were you kidnapped or was anyone there that you know of kidnapped?
What implements, if any, did the kidnappers use (handcuffs, bags over head, ect)?
What verbal threat was used to covey to you that the kidnappers would be using force, if necessary, to drag you to Diamond Ranch Academy?
While you were being kidnapped, did anyone around you (other than your “parents”) recognize you were being kidnapped? Did they do anything to help you?
Describe the kidnapping , please.
What methods were used to keep you from leaving Diamond Ranch Academy?
Would staff restrain you if you attempted to leave?
Were other extralegal prisoners (which they call “students”) expected to watch you, and alert the people manning the extralegal prison system if you attempted to escape?
Would other extralegal prisoners restrain, or be expected to restrain, people who attempted to escape?
Did you witness extralegal prisoners restraining other prisoners?
Were there any “staff” that used to be “students”?
Was there a locking system or fencing system in place to assist in your incarceration?
lol I was not “Kidnapped.” What you are referring to in a transportation service, which did not bring me to DRA. My parents brought me, however, a lot of kids are brought by transporters and their experiences could be similar to kidnapping. As far as leaving DRA, it was near impossible. You are with a staff at all times and if anyone tried to run, multiple staff would chase them down and yes, physically restrain. Then the student would be sent to O&A and be put on searches, where they would have their shoelaces removed and have to be searched several times a day. It is likely that they would also be placed on night searches, where a student is woken up every half hour at night to be searched by several staff members in the batch room. If another student knew of a plan to run or saw a kid run, they were encouraged to speak up and sometimes chase other students down to prevent them from running. They were rewarded for this behavior. In my time there I never saw this happen, though. I had one staff who had graduated the program around 2 years ago. No locking or fencing system was really necessary since there was always a staff around, and even if you did manage to escape, DRA is located in the middle of the desert and by the time you reached the nearest town, the local police will have already been looking for you.
edit: Bath* Room (not batch room).
Thank you for answering
My parents brought me, however, a lot of kids are brought by transporters and their experiences could be similar to kidnapping.
Were you tricked into going to DRA; were you presented an accurate description of the DRA system, and then did you consensually agree to enter DRA? Or, did you enter DRA under false pretenses: believing you were going on a family vacation, for example, or were going to attend a school or treatment center with the structures these institutions are expected to have, only to find you could not escape? Do you know of anyone who was lured to DRA under false pretenses?
As far as leaving DRA, it was near impossible. You are with a staff at all times and if anyone tried to run, multiple staff would chase them down and yes, physically restrain. Then the student would be sent to O&A It is likely that they would also be placed on night searches, where a student is woken up every half hour at night to be searched by several staff members in the batch room.
What methods did they use to prevent you from escaping at night, outside of “batch room” sleep deprivation?
When you enter the program, you being in a stage called O&A. Here, you cannot talk, sit, walk, make noise, spit, eat, stand up, etc. without permission. You must pass 14 full days and complete 14 assignments to get into the actual program. O&A is very difficult, and is used also as punishment for students in the actual program.
Can you write more about O&A so someone never in it can derive a complete understanding?
Were you supposed to be utterly passive and still until you received permission to do anything? How oppressive and extreme was your passivity expected to be? For example, did you have to ask permission for every step if you wanted to move, or each separate destination? Let’s say you wanted to get up and stretch and walk around aimlessly to get rid of tension. Could you get permission for that and do it as long as you wanted?
Would you be restrained if you moved defiantly, after being told not to?
What were the “14 assignments”?
If another student knew of a plan to run or saw a kid run, they were encouraged to speak up and sometimes chase other students down to prevent them from running. They were rewarded for this behavior.
Can you name some of the rewards they could receive? Did rewards include possibly progressing in program levels faster?
and be put on searches, where they would have their shoelaces removed and have to be searched several times a day.
What are these searches like? How invasive? Was there a time limit to how long this punishment could continue? What’s the longest you know of it going on for?
It is likely that they would also be placed on night searches, where a student is woken up every half hour at night to be searched by several staff members in the batch room.
How invasive are those searches? Was there a time limit to how long this punishment could continue? What’s the longest you know of it going on for? Was the victim allowed fewer hours of sleep than usual–aside from being woken up every half hour during this punishment? What is the “batch room”? What else goes on in there?
You are with a staff at all times and if anyone tried to run, multiple staff would chase them down and yes, physically restrain.
How were the physical restraints conducted?
Could you be restrained for any other reason than attempting escape, attacking someone, or trying to hurt yourself? Could you describe every restraint you witnessed, and if you know, the reasons why they were initiated?
What would /could they do to you if you passively refused to do anything?
Did they force feed, or threaten force feeding on anyone?
Please list all potential punishments you can think of.