Investigation Reveals Widespread Abuse in Florida Juvenile Detention Facilities
A Miami Herald investigation into Florida’s juvenile detention facilities revealed harrowing details involving guards provoking incarcerated adolescents into fighting and injuring each other. It also revealed guards bribing and beating the teens, prompting two Florida lawmakers to make surprise visits and inspect the facility conditions.
Investigators looked at 10 years’ worth of data from the State Department of Juvenile Justice and found nothing short of widespread abuse: not only were officers bribing some detainees to beat up others, but there was also rampant sexual misconduct and medical neglect.
Youth Egregiously Beaten; Lives Taken
The stories are horrifying: mere children brutally beaten within an inch of their lives, some of whom actually did lose their lives. In digging deeper, issues were found with the (negligent) hiring of the staff officers, many of whom were hired to take care of the youth in these facilities even though they had their own criminal histories and/or had been previously fired for misconduct. In some cases, workers who brought about the youths’ deaths by egregiously using excessive force were criminally charged, but not a single officer was imprisoned for wrongdoing.
There have been several suggestions on how to reform this serious issue. For example, legislators have filed legislation that would allow them to go in and inspect the facilities without providing advance notice first. Another proposal was to place an outside party like a school resource officer in each of the facilities who could then report misconduct to a separate entity within the Department of Juvenile Justice.
What about Litigation?
Even though these juveniles are in custody, they still enjoy basic civil rights, such as the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and the right to equal protection. If an individual is injured at one of these facilities, they are able to sue. Arguably, Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act—which protects citizens against police brutality—would also apply in these types of facilities.In addition, they may have more time to file their lawsuit, as the statute of limitations for a personal injury often doesn’t start until they reach 18 years of age.
Florida Injury Attorneys Here To Help
Any injury or death that is caused by negligent, reckless, and/or intentional misconduct can be painful, disheartening, and even ruin a family’s life. Our system mandates that we provide reasonable levels of care to juveniles in these facilities, and the conduct revealed in this investigation reveals quite the opposite.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of abuse in a correctional facility like this, the law provides you with a means of addressing it. Working with experienced personal injury attorneys can help you navigate next steps—contact us today at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan to obtain more information.