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Chapter 9 Introduction PDF Print E-mail
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Grey Literature - DPF: Drug Prohibition & Conscience of Nations 1990
Monday, 01 October 1990 00:00

We, as parents of all nations, must say to our local law enforcement officer, "If my child, my loved one, or my friend breaks the law by using illicit drugs, please arrest him or her."
—Thomas J. Gleaton   

In treatment like this, we're dealing with little animals. People forget that these kids are druggies. They cannot maintain any self-control. It's our job to get out their anger and remold their lives.   
—Ann Petito

Imprisoning Our Children to Save Them from Drugs

Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush, among other American luminaries, are strong supporters of Straight, Inc., a hard-line drug treatment organization which has been known to imprision youth in order to save them from drugs. This may seem to be an extreme statement but the tactics of Straight have been documented time and time again in court proceedings.

What is even more remarkable is that there is so little sustained outrage over these illegal actions expressed in the press and media of America or of other democratic countries. So also is there virtual silence from professional organizations, such as medical or bar associations, who normally would be deeply concerned. Even when the destructive activities of Straight, and of similar cultish organizations, result in adverse court decisions, the definitive meaning of those verdicts is also generally ignored. For example, young Fred Collins won a $220,000 verdict from a federal court jury against Straight in 1983 because he was imprisoned illegally for 135 days.

Yet, in 1985 First Lady Nancy Reagan took Princess Diana on a regal visit to the very Straight facility in Springfield, Va., where this young American citizen had been held without cause for part of his illegal confinement. As she had done in the past, Mrs. Reagan pointed to Straight with pride as one of the best examples of American treatment practices, a model for the world. Not a single word appeared in the press regarding that visit about the documented abuses of Straight, many of which had propelled an outraged jury in an Alexandria federal court house a few miles away to hand down that large verdict.

This harsh treatment of children has its roots in the American Parents Movement which received enormous support from Mrs. Reagan and the Reagan administration. Members of that movement believe fervently, passionately, devoutly in a set of beliefs that are quite congruent with the notion of a holy war against drugs — and which lead to the ideology that supports forced institutionalization of young people to save their souls and bodies from drugs. Key elements of that ideology are:

1. This generation of American youth are out of control when it comes to drugs and sex. They have been corrupted by the legacy of the permissive 60s.

2. Even one marijuana cigarette or one beer will very probably spell destruction to most young people.

3. Through a harsh but necessary form of love, sometimes called Toughlove, youth must be sometimes subjected to a great deal of control and restraint.

4. Where necessary, that restraint may involve forced incarceration in treatment centers, or even arrest by the police, in order to save young people from the greater dangers of drugs.

5. In treatment centers, such as Straight, Inc., the young residents are taught that any use of drugs or any involvement in sexual activities is proof of addiction to chemicals. The idea of recreational drug use is a "do-drug message" being foisted on the youth of America by intellectuals in league with the drug dealers and organized crime.

6. Intellectuals who propose legalization of drugs or lessening the rigid enforcement of drug prohibition are being likewise irresponsible for they also are giving a "do-drug message" to the youth of the country and the world.

This extreme set of ideas lies at the heart of American drug policy. They have enormous grassroots support in the United States and in many other countries as reflected in the Bush-Bennett national strategy reports and in the growing attendance at PRIDE meetings from around the world. One of us attended the International Conference on Drugs presented by the Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education, Inc. in Atlanta during April of 1985 which attracted 2,000 people from 50 countries. PRIDE is the leading organization of the parents movement around the world.