Mel Sembler Is the Last One Who Should Influence Florida Drug Policy - 2014-04-06
As I've already written, for 16 years he and his wife Betty directed the leading juvenile drug rehab business in America, STRAIGHT Inc., which prosecutors closed in 1993 after reports of sexual abuse, beatings, prisoner-of-war-style torture and unrelenting cover-ups. Despite the six-figure settlements that sucked the business dry, the 40-plus client suicides, the clinic licenses state health officials yanked, Sembler not only found a way to escape punishment, but he defends his program to this day.
In fact, the program legally changed its identity to the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF). Director Calvina Fay denies it's the same organization, but the name change is listed in corporate filings. DFAFno longer treats clients, but it's still a major player in shaping domestic and international drug policy.
Please don't think the case against STRAIGHT is just rumor, or political nonsense. Floridas Bureau of Criminal Justice Planning and Assistance found that most cases of child abuse at Straight had been substantiated; that even though STRAIGHT received federal grants, it had "disguised" client fees as "donations"; that in its first 18 months of operation STRAIGHT had enrolled 450 teens but only one had been black; that Sembler had violated federal conflict-of-interest regulations because federal grant money was to be used for "salaries only," but STRAIGHT had put the money in a single bank account along with other STRAIGHT funds at First Bank of Treasure Island. Worse still, Mel Sembler was on the bank's board of directors.