Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index

Lisa Brown:

What is your name?

Lisa Brown

To which institutions were you sent?

Escuela Caribe: March 1994 - May 1996, Marion: May 1996 - July 1996

How old were you?

16-18 years old

When were you enrolled in The Program?

March 1994 - July 1996

What was the highest level you attained?

The highest level I reached was 1st. I spent all but 3 weeks of my stay on 0 level.

Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:

I was never in trouble with the law. I didn't do drugs. I smoked a few cigarettes, cut a few classes at school to hang out in the art room. I had fallen in with a group of peers who were either gay or goth. Some of my friends did drugs. My parents assumed that I did, too. At the heart of all of our problems was undiagnosed bipolar disorder. They were afraid that I would kill myself, or that I would sleep around and get pregnant. They thought the program would provide therapy. That's what they have said in bits and pieces, although they have refused to breach the subject in conversation to this day.

In which house(s) did you live?

I was in TKB, Starr, Herrick, and Pitts.

Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:

This is an awkward question because I believe every day was a violation of my person. I was required to ask to pass through doorways, supervised in the bathroom, forced into manual labor, as were all students. That is humiliating and abusive. In addition to these things were the special little tortures like being "swatted" or beaten with a leather strap on my bottom while bent over a chair, holding the low rungs with my hands. There was an occasion where I was hit so hard that instead of the usual blood-blisters, my skin actually broke. I was kept on a diet where I was allowed only one serving of food. I wasted to 121 lbs on my big boned 5'5" frame. My bones stuck out. I slept on a 1" foam pad with 3 slats because I was ranked lowest in the house. I got bruises from the slats on my hipbones. I was forced to do exercises until I vomited and my body gave out, then punished for not doing more. I was isolated in the "quiet room" twice. This is an isolation room open to the outside. For 3 months I was on "silence" and not allowed to speak except to ask permission or directions from the staff. There was one couple who did relief staffing for the houseparents who put me on silence for all meals because they said I talked about stupid things. This is by no means a finished list, just a taste.

Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:

I remember a girl being dragged by her hair into a cold shower because she was frightened and new, then she was chased up the hill road by the director on a motorcycle carrying a leather strap to hit her with. I also remember hearing "sessions" where the director would swat other girls while insulting or coddling them, without rhyme or reason.

Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?

The food was really really good. It was the good thing you could always count on.

What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?

I am diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of my experience in the program. I don't feel it helped me at all.

What do you think of the quality of education you received?

Your education really depended on how well you could teach yourself. My math teacher had to help me a lot but all in all I feel like I knew all I needed to, except for chemistry, which is difficult to teach oneself.

How old are you today?

I am 27 years old.

Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?

I have attended 3 different colleges and 2 vocational schools. I have no degrees.

What is your profession?

I am a midwife's assistant and a doula by trade, but am unemployed.

Do you consider yourself a Christian today?

I am Buddhist.

What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?

It ruined any chance of me being a Christian. This has alienated me from my family and gotten me kicked out of 2 schools.

Please feel free to add comments here:

Parents, if your children need help, there are plenty of theraputic institutions that will love your child into good self-esteem and pride in themselves. Places where your children will learn that they are too valuable to waste their lives on crime or drugs, or to abuse their bodies. This program is not that place. Good luck on your search.

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