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The State of the Art: The Malcolms’ Examination of Straight, Incorporated, Timeline

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a five-part series from Marcus Chatfield, a regular contributor to Points. Here he offers a timeline of key events and news articles in the history of Straight, Inc., the controversial adolescent drug treatment program that existed from 1976 to 1993. Thank you Marcus for bringing this series to Points!

November, 1980 – Opening Day, Sarasota facility.


1/4/1981 – Sarasota Herald-Tribune begins series on Straight, featuring Dr. Robert DuPont (White House Drug Policy Advisor for Presidents Nixon and Ford, and former Director of NIDA), and his sense of urgency about preventing marijuana use.

1/5/81 – “Community Concern Gave Straight Its Start” –  Sarasota Herald-Tribune

1/20/81 – Reagan/Bush Inauguration Day

2/6/81 – Press conference at Sarasota Straight, Dr. Robert DuPont announces Straight’s national expansion: 26 new branches that will cost $18,212,000.00 over 5 years (1982-1986).

2/9/81 – “Straight Inc. Urged To Expand Nationwide” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

7/6/81 –  “Growing Straight Inc Remains Controversial” – St. Petersburg Times

8/5/81 – Betty Sembler (wife of Straight’s founding president, Mel Sembler) letter to Carlton Turner (White House Drug Policy Advisor), confirming his future participation in the “Awareness Program” and inviting him for dinner with Dr. DuPont in Washington, D.C. (p. 1).

8/15/81 – Opening Day, Atlanta facility.

8/20/81 – Malcolms arrive for 6-day assessment of St.Petersburg facility (p. 3).

8/25/81 – Carlton Turner letter to Betty Sembler, accepting dinner invitation (p. 2). / Malcolms complete their study of Straight.

9/5/81 – Malcolms’ report, An Examination of Straight Incorporated, is completed (p. 32).

9/21/81 – Semblers, DuPonts, and Turners dinner date

9/24/81 – “Straight: Teens Finding Freedom From Drugs” – Marietta Daily Journal

9/25/81 – Richard Hayman (Chair, Straight Northern Virginia Organizing Committee), letter to Carlton Turner about future Washington, D.C. area program: “DuPont is urging us to expand nationally” (p. 3).

10/16/81 – Carlton Turner attends Friday night Open Meeting at St. Petersburg facility (p. 7).

10/17/81 – Straight’s first annual Awareness Banquet, DuPont announces: Straight is the best (Trebach, 1987).

10/26/81 – James Hartz letter to Carlton Turner, thanking him for the visit; mentions promotional material enclosed with letter (p. 8).

11/6/81 – Carlton Turner letter to Hartz: “you’ve demonstrated that the private sector works and works well” (p. 13).

11/15/81 –  “Fighting Drugs: School Assessment Commendable” – Marietta Daily Journal

11/21/81 –  “Parents Involved Before Enrollment” – Cincinnati Post

“Kids Helping Kids” – Cincinnati Post

11/22/81 –  “Straight Head Tells About Drug Program”– Marietta Daily Journal

12/22/81 –  “Drug Program Official Named” – Sarasota Journal

12/23/81 – James Hartz (Straight’s National Director), asks Carlton Turner for an official endorsement for Straight’s “Solicitation Presentation” (p. 17-18), mentions letters from DuPont and Malcolms: “The impact of a package such as ours is perceptibly enhanced by this type of verification” (p. 15).

12/26/81 – Malcolms’ endorsement letter to Hartz, praising Straight and their national expansion: “We suspect that money is going to be forthcoming, from diverse sources, for a programme as enlightened and as nationally necessary as is that of Straight” (p. 35-37).


1/5/82 – “Drug Center Opens” – Cincinnati Post

1/6/82 – Opening Day, Cincinnati facility.

1/15/82 – Mel Sembler (Straight’s founding President), sends Malcolms’ endorsement letter to Carlton Turner (p. 20).

1/31/82 – “Drug Center Accused of Holding Five” – Atlanta Constitution

2/1/82 –  “ACLU, Drug Center in Court Thursday” – Marietta Daily Journal

2/3/82 –  “Georgia Suit: Straight Inc. Illegally Detaining 5” – St. Petersburg Times

2/4/82 – Atlanta chapter of the ACLU sues Atlanta Straight for false imprisonment, abuse.

“Judge Robinson to Rule on Straight Suit” – Marietta Daily Journal

2/15/82 –  “Nancy Reagan Begins Journey to Battle Drugs” – Atlanta Journal

2/16/82 – Nancy Reagan visits St. Petersburg facility.

2/17/82 –   “A Worthwhile Tour” – Atlanta Journal

2/18/82 –  “Nancy Enters War Against Drugs” – Sarasota Journal

2/19/82 – James Hartz letter to Carlton Turner thanking him for “his part” in arranging the visit by Nancy Reagan (p. 22). / William Case (Straight’s Treasurer), letter to Carlton Turner: “nice to see you again Monday” (p. 23).

Mid-March, 1982 – Cincinnati chapter of the ACLU files complaints with Ohio Bureau of Drug Abuse about “coercion and brainwashing,” asks for state investigation of Cincinnati Straight.

3/18/82 – “Father Drops Suit Against Drug Center” – Cincinnati Post

4/3/82 – Three news articles in Cincinnati Enquirer: (1.) first public mention of ACLU complaints and possible state investigation (2.) Article featuring favorable descriptions of the program (3.) Only known public mention of Malcolms’ report: “cleared Straight of brainwashing.”

5/12/82 – Carlton Turner praises Straight at fundraising banquet attended by Florida State Attorney General, Jim Smith, and several state representatives.

5/13/82 – Three newspaper articles: (1.) Client complaints about abuses in Straight (2.) More client complaints (3.) Announcing Carlton Turner’s praise for Straight at fundraiser.

5/14/82 – State confirms it will investigate Cincinnati facility based on ACLU complaints. / James Hartz letter to Carlton Turner thanking him for his words and support at Straight banquet: “We are most grateful to your good offices in helping us over some rough spots during the past few months. The visit by Nancy Reagan has been a beacon to us all” (p. 24).

5/16/82 – “Drug Treatment Center Cleared of Wrongdoing” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

5/18/82 – Carlton Turner to James Hartz: “your efforts are appreciated and I know you will continue the good work” (p. 25).

5/20/82 – “Sara Kane, Straight Inc.” memo to Carlton Turner: “Just thought you might like to be updated on the Atlanta situation,” with May 16th news article (p. 26).

5/24/82 – Congressman, Frank Wolf (R-VA10, 1981-2014) enters praise for Straight in congressional record, mentions need for funding (p. 29).

6/1/82 – Dave Stottlemyer (Office of Vice President, George Bush) memo to Carlton Turner regarding development of Washington, D.C. area Straight facility in Springfield, VA: “getting politicos on board,” refers to example of Frank Wolf in Congressional record and mentions a plan “we have developed” (p. 28).

6/14/82 – Carlton Turner sends letter to Virgil Miller Newton thanking him for visiting (p. 30).

6/22/82 – “Rehabilitation Center Cleared” – Cincinnati Post

6/23/82 –  “State Bureau Approves Straight Inc. Drug Program” – Cincinnati Enquirer

6/29/82 – C. Wayne Kayser (Straight’s Director of Development), letter to Carlton Turner: media coverage “accorded to a project of this type” during awareness weekend was unprecedented, gratitude for support (p. 32).

7/8/82 – “State Agency Gives Straight Inc Good Marks” – St. Petersburg Times

7/14/82 –  “Straight Drug Cure Program Headed Here” – Washington Post

7/28/82 –  “Straight To Open Area Chapter” – Washington Post

8/20/82 –  “Woman Sues Husband, Straight Inc.” – Cincinnati Enquirer

9/16/82 – “Six People Snatched Youth 14” – Cincinnati Enquirer

10/1/82 –  “Straight Called Answer To Drug Crisis” – Cincinnati Enquirer

10/28/82 – Opening Day, Springfield, VA facility.

11/6/82 – “Straight Director Resigns” – Cincinnati Post

12/11/82 –  “Drug Program Told To Allow Lawyer Access” – Washington Post

12/13/82 –  “Losing Identity – And A Lot More” – Cincinnati Post

12/14/82 –  “Teens Recall Drug Days As Nightmare” – Cincinnati Post

12/15/82 –  “Parents Find Hope” – Cincinnati Post

12/16/82 –  “Youths, Parents Bare Souls At Straight” – Cincinnati Post



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