My name is Carl Brown and I am a Casa by the Sea and High Impact death camp survivor.
I was 13 years old and had previously been kicked out of five schools in the past six years. When I was seven, I had been diagnosed with ADHD and Bi Polar disorder. I also had anger and abandonment issues. My father left my mom and I before I could walk, so it was just us trying to make it in a world of struggle. So it was very hard for me to sit still in school, my brain running a thousand thoughts per second, I was being told to be still and quiet but my brain had too many important topics for me to obey those requests. So because of this I was always in trouble and as the years progressed it got worse. My mother remarried, and from the first time I met this man, we did not get along. He would intimidate and physically abuse my sister and I, and this caused a barrier between my mother and I. So at 13, after having already been kicked out of the house a dozen times, and expulsion from junior high my mom was out of ideas. Her husband found a place for children called WWASPS (WorldWide Association of Specialty Schools) and they decided to look into it. My mom brought home a videotape and asked me to watch it, and then tell her what I thought. I saw kids around a campfire, jet skiing, playing volleyball on a beautiful beach, people making friends and having fun. It was in Mexico and everything looked like the most fun you could ever have. I was told I’d get to do all of that, and get caught up in school and graduate as well. Most important of all is it was supposed to bring me closer to my mom again, and our relationship would be better. I never thought that I would be stepping straight into purgatory with a blindfold on, with the only expectation that this could help me, not almost kill me.
We drove from Washington State to Ensenada, Mexico in a day and a half and to this day I remember walking through those red gates to hell. I was told my mom would tour the campus while I got checked in. I was escorted up through the ‘A’ Building and Arturo threw the famous blue shirt, red and black tie, girls’ dickies and sandals at me and told me to take my clothes off. Confused, I obeyed quickly so I could put the clothes on, but much to my dismay was yelled at again. He told me to squat and cough, which I did. I didn't understand why I was being treated like I was going to jail, why I was being treated like I would sneak anything in. I then put my clothes on, and Arturo grabbed my arm very hard and dragged me to the classroom, I was so confused. I saw kids face down in schoolwork and there was no one speaking or whispering. These kids didn't even look up at me when Arturo told the father he ‘had a new kid’. I asked the father when I would get to see my mom and he yelled in Spanish. At this time I only knew how to count to six in Spanish, so I had no idea what they were saying. He kept yelling and yelling and at this point I was angry and did not have to deal with this, I felt like I was in a different world. I got up and started to make it for the door.
The other families’ father stood up and tried to grab me but missed as I jumped onto the table and ran out the door. I wasn't familiar with this facility so I ran to where I thought I had last been, when I heard yelling in Spanish on radios. I ran through the A building hallway and just before I made it to the big green, Luke from administration decked me in the face. I lay on the ground bleeding as Jorge and Miguel carry me to ‘R&R’. I was then told to lay on my stomach with my hands behind my back and chin on the hard tile. I spent three days doing this, and after my chin had been bloody from Luke’s fist. I was then brought to worksheet where I was to sit on the edge of a bench with my back straight, hands on my knees and looking straight at all times. If I were to have an itch or re-position myself in any way I would get another hour. I spent the whole week in worksheets. The worksheets fitness was horrible, in the hot sun we would work out for hours in the sand until we were all throwing up from dehydration and exhaustion. We couldn't even take a shower and I went to bed multiple times leaving tons of sand behind in my bed. Many times I was denied to go to the bathroom pissing myself and was not allowed to shower afterward. I was the youngest boy there to my knowledge and the consequences for every little detail really messed with me mentally.
After spending my first four months in worksheets and R&R, and after my mom told me she would not pull me from the program, I decided to fake it. I mean, I lived in a world where the color of pens was important, where we spoke in a quiet weird language (boom meant good, smah meant bad) because we weren't allowed to speak and if we were it had to be in Spanish. I went through the seminars and was told by my good friend Billy to cry when I went. I didn't understand until I went that that was the only way I could get through. I ripped a lot of hair from my leg in order to cry and because I have hairy legs is the only way I passed the Discovery and Focus seminars. I did not understand why the seminar leader David Gilcrease got in my face, spitting all over me, calling me a piece of shit and throwing chairs. He also told this girl who confessed to being raped by her uncle, that he was her uncle and that she was a little slut and he was going to do it again. Because she was so flustered and couldn't talk he called her a liar and told her she deserved it and then kicked her out. It was ridiculous and I had no choice but to fake it because I had 7 more years until I was 18. I spent my days daydreaming and planning, making up this personality that would be the key to my survival in purgatory.
When we had leisure time, a time for level 2's and 3's to speak, a group of my friends and I planned to escape. We communicated through braille and came up with a major game plan to attack the night guards and lift each other over the P.E. walls. Our plan was cut short because one of the level three's in our family decided to tell administration and before we could carry out the plan we were all separated and put in R&R. They sent everyone to High Impact except me. I could not take it anymore so I decided to hang myself in the bathrooms the next night. I had never before had the urge to commit suicide nor have I ever wanted to harm myself. I put my bed sheets under my shirt and signalled to the night staff I needed to use the restroom. I went into the showers and flipped the sheet over the water pipes in the shower and knotted it around my neck. I bent my knees and started to choke, and I started to lose consciousness. My head became cloudy and I started to cry. A kid who must have come down heard me told the night staff, and staff and administration barrelled into the showers and untied the rope and I was slammed down on my face. After that I was escorted to R&R yet again and after that I went to High Impact. After less than a month the Federalies had infiltrated High Impact with pistols and cameras and everyone was sent back to casa.
Shortly after that, we were standing in line for a very long time. I have flat feet so I was shifting my weight around, when our families father started giving me consequence after consequence for moving in line, when finally I said if I'm gonna keep getting consequences, can I just sit down? I got a cat 2 for speaking in English and a cat 2 for speaking in English on the green which resulted in a total of five hours in worksheets. I also got a cat 2 for insubordination and finally I lost it. I told him I wasn't gonna fill anymore consequences out (we had to write each one out ourselves), and then he grabbed me and we started to wrestle. I was only 13 at the time but I had lost it and tried to fight back, but it was no use, he finally got my arms behind my back and pushed up. It was a horrible feeling and I thought my arms were broken. He then smashed my face into the big green and rubbed it into the astroturf. My forehead and elbows were bloody and I couldn't move my arms. After that I spent a couple more weeks in R&R and worksheets and then was released to my Casa family. The father that did that to me was not fired and my grievance letter to administration was never answered. After the Federalies raided Casa by the Sea, pictures of my forehead and scabbed up elbows were taken and I had hopes for a release, but I was not pulled from the program.
Finally after 14 months and 17 days I was pulled from the program by my mom and taken back home. But after 6 months I was sent back despite the stories I told my mom. The 6 months I was home proved to me I had a lot of anger and resentment towards the world. Even after being free I didn't feel like I was free and I was always worried about something. I got in trouble and started hanging around gangbangers and found myself in a world of violence and drugs. It was the only comfort zone I had since leaving Casa, because there I had learned a new life and a new personality. I spent 7 more months at Casa until I flipped out and went off the deep end. I was done doing what the program wanted and I punched a kid in my family and got on top of him and blacked out. I only remember people shouting but I couldn't make out what they were saying. I only knew that I had been pushed beyond my limits and this kid who had got me a cat 2 was going to pay. I kept hitting him over and over again until the father came running up to see what was happening. I then focused my attention on him and started swinging and punching him as hard as I could. I wasn't picturing the father while swinging, I was punching the program and everything it stood for. I was punching Dace, his wife, Jade, Luke, and Mike (all administrators). I wanted them to die for what they put me through for the last 2 years. Finally, exhausted, more administration who had come punching and kicking me dragged me to R&R. With a mouth full of blood I started to laugh, spitting it at them, not having a care in the world. This was the most free I had felt in years, shouting at the top of my lungs "f--- Casa by the Sea, you'll never programize me, you might as well kill me!"
They held me down for 2 hours but couldn't get me to shut up. I remember laying on the tile in R&R face first in a pool of blood screaming and laughing and crying. To this day I look back at who I was and I think, I was just a scared kid who was trying to find his place in this world, I didn't need anyone to physically or mentally abuse me to find this out. It was a horrible experience but I thank God everyday I was sent to Mexico. I thank God, because my kid will never be sent away, I thank God because of my experience I can be the voice of reasoning to other parents trying to find a way to fix their relationships with their children. I can be that person to say, do not send your kid to a place or places like this because it will crush their soul and anything good in them. They will not believe the goodness of the world and their spirit will be broken. My fellow survivors and I live in pain in remembrance of what we have endured and gone through in our young lives. When I left Casa the second time I was on a path of destruction and rage, and at 16 I was a juvenile convicted as an adult with first degree armed robbery and two counts of first degree robbery. I was 16 in a penitentiary and still felt safer than in casa. And in 2007 I was convicted of a DUI. I'm 23 years old now and have finally gotten away from the gang, drug, and prison life. I found a good girlfriend and we will get married and have a family soon, and for the first time in 11 years I am happy to be alive. I am a brother of struggle and a survivor and I will not stop telling my story and my experience until Dace and his administration are in jail and the WWASPS organisation is dead. I also want to say rest in peace to the students who did not make it out alive: Valerie Ann Heron and at least 80 others were killed in a program related incident. You all will be missed greatly by your family. And to Dace and your buddies- "I will not stop until every single one of you are out of business, you are murderers and thieves, and you will someday be brought to justice for your actions. The pain and suffering you have caused will not go unpunished, and I promise that!"