History Repeats Itself In Florida’s Juvenile System

Wrote about the vicious Florida Juvenile System of past years a few months ago where Juveniles were abused and killed.

Seem that things haven’t gotten a whole bunch better. When Republicans “privatize” government…

This is what really goes on.

PRISONERS OF PROFIT: Florida’s Lax Oversight Enables Systemic Abuse At Private Youth Prisons

Youth Services International confronted a potentially expensive situation. It was early 2004, only three months into the private prison company’s $9.5 million contract to run Thompson Academy, a juvenile prison in Florida, and already the facility had become a scene of documented violence and neglect.

One guard had fractured an inmate’s elbow after the boy refused instructions to throw away a cup, according to incident reports. Another guard had slammed a boy’s head into the floor after an argument. The prison was infested with ants and cockroaches,toilets were frequently clogged and children reported finding bugsin their meager portions of food.

“From day one, it was hell,” said Jerry Blanton, a former monitor with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, who was then tasked with inspecting Thompson Academy.

Conditions appeared so foul and perilous that he told his supervisors that he “emphatically recommended that the facility be closed,”according to a memo about the discussions.

What happened next speaks to how Youth Services International has managed to forge a lucrative business running private juvenile prisons in Florida and 15 other states even amid mounting evidence of abuse. The company used connections with state officials to complain that Blanton was intimidating staff. Less than a week later, the state removed him as monitor of the facility. Two months after that, he was fired.

Thompson remained open, and Youth Services International retained its contract to operate it. In the nine years since, the company has won an additional eight contracts in Florida, bringing 4,100 more youths through its facilities, according to state records. All the while, complaints of abuse and neglect have remained constant.

Florida leads the nation in placing state prisons in the hands of private, profit-making companies. In recent years, the state has privatized the entirety of its $183 million juvenile commitment system — the nation’s third-largest, trailing only California and Texas. Florida not only relies on private contractors to self-report escapes and incidents of violence and abuse, but the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice routinely awards contracts to private prison operators without scrutinizing their records, a Huffington Post investigation has found.

“We thought DJJ was going to be our biggest ally,” said Gordon Weekes, the chief juvenile public defender in Broward County, who has for years complained to the state about conditions inside two YSI prisons there. “They turned out to be the ally of the corporations, and the ally of the system.”

Florida’s permissive oversight has allowed Youth Services International to essentially game the system since entering the state more than a decade ago. Despite contractual requirements that the company report serious incidents at its facilities, YSI routinely fails to document problems, sanitizes those reports it does submit and pressures inmates to withhold evidence of mistreatment, according to interviews with 14 former YSI employees.

“The state is not doing enough,” said Wanda Williams, a former staffer at YSI’s Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility, who quit in 2010 after growing disgusted with the violence and squalid conditions she saw inside the prison. “Because if they were, that place should have been shut down by now.”

Executives at YSI declined requests for interviews made over the last four months. In an emailed response to questions, Senior Vice President Jesse Williams said the company’s juvenile prisons are some of the best in Florida. He added that the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice rigorously inspects the facilities.

“The DJJ has a very meticulous monitoring system,” he said. “There are numerous announced and unannounced visits to each facility to check for quality assurance and contract compliance, and we do very well in our reviews.”

Williams denied that the company fails to report serious incidents to the state. “Our policy is to report everything,” he said. “In fact, we communicate to our employees that if there are any doubts about whether it is a reportable incident to go ahead and notify DJJ.”

Senior officials at the Department of Juvenile Justice declined interview requests. The agency refused to discuss specific details of HuffPost’s findings, though a spokeswoman issued a statement asserting the department is committed to ensuring that youth in its system “remain safe and are given every opportunity to thrive.” She said contract oversight is one of the agency’s top priorities.

“With 100 percent of the agency’s residential services provided through contractors, the contract selection and renewal process is paramount to our success,” said the spokeswoman, Meghan Speakes Collins, in an email.

Since 2011, when Republican Gov. Rick Scott took office in Florida, the department has “revamped” its review of contractors, she added, by engaging in deeper statistical analysis of trends such as high staff turnover and the number of altercations between staff and youth.

YSI is a subsidiary of a bigger company operating a number of facilities in  predominately Red States. From another investigation of their facilities in Texas -

Kirkham goes on to write, quote, “In 2001, an 18-year-old committed to a Texas boot camp operated by one of Slattery’s previous companies, Correctional Services Corp., came down with pneumonia and pleaded to see a doctor as he struggled to breathe. Guards accused the teen of faking it and forced him to do pushups in his own vomit, according to Texas law enforcement reports. After nine days of medical neglect, he died.

That same year, auditors in Maryland found that staff at one of Slattery’s juvenile facilities coaxed inmates to fight on Saturday mornings as a way to settle disputes from earlier in the week. In recent years, the company has failed to report riots, assaults and claims of sexual abuse at its juvenile prisons in Florida, according to a review of state records and accounts from former employees and inmates.

Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s juvenile delinquents are today committed to private facilities, according to the most recent federal data from 2011, up from about 33 percent twelve years earlier.

Over the past two decades, more than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through one of Slattery’s prisons, boot camps or detention centers, according to a Huffington Post analysis of juvenile facility data.

Out of more than 300 institutions surveyed, a YSI detention center in Georgia had the highest rate of youth alleging sexual assaults in the country, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

A YSI facility in Palm Beach County had the highest rate of reported sexual assaults out of 36 facilities reviewed in Florida, the Bureau of Justice Statistics report found….

 

Juvenile Incarceration

"Juvenile in Justice" photo project captures kids behind bars

The above pic is from a series called “Juvenile in Justice”. They don’t say what this particular kid did to get in that cell – but some of the other pictures are of juveniles who have committed extremely violent crimes.

Worth a look.

Hispanics Now Majority of Felony Convictions

Looks like Immigration “Enforcement” is doing for Hispanic communities what Drug “Enforcement” did to black communities.

Anything some folks can do to keep ‘em from voting.

More bad news for black conservatives, as how are they going to sell that black dysfunction pimp driving white fear, and assuaging white conservative guilt…

If black folks aren’t public enemy “number one”?

Looks like there will be a lot of job openings in the conservative “think tank” and “talking head” sphere for “Tio Thomas” lawn ornaments…

And some of the black stalwarts of the right…

Better start looking for honest jobs.

File this one under “Domestic Terrorism”.

Prisons - Now a Cheaper Labor source than in either China or India

Feds: Hispanics comprise majority of all people sent to federal prison for committing felonies

More than half of all people sent to federal prison for committing felony crimes so far this year were Hispanic, a major demographic shift swollen by immigration offenses, according to a new government report released Tuesday.

Hispanics already outnumber all other ethnic groups sentenced to serve time in prison for federal felonies.

Hispanics reached a new milestone for the first time this year, making up the majority of all federal felony offenders sentenced in the first nine months of fiscal year 2011, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Hispanics comprised 50.3 percent of all people sentenced in that time period, blacks 19.7 percent and whites 26.4 percent.

In comparison, last year Hispanics made up just 16 percent of the whole U.S. population.

The commission’s statistics also reveal that sentences for felony immigration crimes _ which include illegal crossing and other crimes such as alien smuggling _ were responsible for most of the increase in the number of Hispanics sent to prison over the last decade.

The demographic change in who is being sent to federal prison has already prompted debate among commissioners and experts studying the impact of expedited court hearings along the border.

“Statistics like this have to start drawing attention to this country’s immigration policies and what we’re doing, if this is one of the results,” said Fordham University Law School professor Deborah Denno, an expert on racial disparities in the criminal justice system. “The implications for Hispanics are huge when you think of the number of families affected by having their breadwinners put away for what in some cases would be considered a non-violent offense.”

Prison Rape, and the Spread of AIDs in Black Urban Communities

This should be a Civil Rights issue adopted by the so called “black leaders” who are remnants of the Civil Rights era. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the high rate of AIDs in the black urban community is related to the high rate of incarceration of black males. It is another component of genocide…

It’s Time to End the Epidemic of Prisoner Rape

When Bryson Martel was sentenced to six years in prison for check fraud, he was 28 years old, weighed 123 pounds, and was scared to death. He had good reason to be afraid. Within weeks of his arrival, he was beaten and raped at knifepoint. Martel reported the assault to staff, who moved him to “protective custody” – into a cell with a known rapist.

Days later, he was raped again.

Prison authorities should have taken particular care to protect Martel’s safety, knowing that he was a target for abuse. They didn’t, and the assaults continued. Over the course of nine months, Martel estimates he was raped by 27 different people. Ultimately, he was infected with HIV, and now has full-blown AIDS. Continue reading

Judge Greg Mathis – The Prison-Slavery System

Now – this is the most unprofessional interview I’ve ever seen (this makes Faux News Cable look like a responsible news source), with the interviewer spouting off on her beliefs instead of asking the interviewee, in this case Judge Mathis, what he thinks – but it is worth a listen because Judge Mathis makes some startling observations about the prison-industrial complex.

Now – once you get past the hyperventilated presentation and interview, Judge Mathis has something important to say.

In another development impacting the Prison-Industrial complex, the Census is changing counting methods -

New census prisoner policy could benefit American cities

By David A. Love

America’s prison population could play an important role in the country’s redistricting battles, and help reshape America’s electoral map.

A new federal policy will change the way in which prisoners are counted in the 2010 Census. Census officials plan to make prisoner data available earlier than in past years. Prisoners were always counted in the national tally, but the federal government provided prisoner data to states after they completed their redistricting. Now, states will have access to that information prior to redistricting.

This move is important because now, the states will now have the option of counting prisoners based on their home districts–typically urban areas–rather than the rural districts where many of them are imprisoned. Districts with prisons have received more federal dollars because they were able to use their inmate headcount to boost their population. Meanwhile, urban areas have experienced a drop in federal funds, and a loss of representation in Congress, because their populations have declined. After all, the cities have involuntarily donated many of their young men, and increasingly women, to fill up these rural penitentiaries. Continue reading

The New Jim Crow – Conservatism and the War on Crime

The United States, supposedly a Democracy incarcerates a larger portion of it’s population than any other nation in the world… Even dictatorships and communist countries.

World's Largest Number of People in Prison - The US

World's Largest Number of People in Prison - The US

Incarceration in the United States is not really a tool for crime prevention – it is a methodology to control poor and minority populations. A lot has been written about how disparate drug laws, disparate enforcement, and disparate conviction rates impact minority communities.  The simplest way to understand it is to say that if sentencing matched for drugs like Meth and Heroin versus crack – the color of the already massive prison population in the United States would change from black and brown to white virtually overnight. Toss in prescription meds, and you’d need 4 times the Stimulus package President Obama proposed…

Just to build prisons. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers