|In a state known for its abusive youth prisons, the Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility may be the worst of them all. Nearly a third of boys housed at the privately run Palm Beach facility were victims of sexual abuse, a horrifying statistic and the highest of any facility reviewed in the state.The problems at the Palm Beach facility are so dangerous that the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate conditions at the facility run by Youth Service International (YSI), a private prison company with a history of poor conditions. An on-going investigation does not go far enough.Eight states have closed YSI-operated facilities due to mistreatment of youth. Despite this dismal track record, statewide, YSI maintains more than $100 million in contracts with Florida’s DJJ, $29 million of which goes to operate the Palm Beach facility.Two officers at the Palm Beach facility are currently facing criminal charges for arranging a fight between two youth for the officers’ entertainment. In a separate incident, another teen was recently assaulted so badly that he was hospitalized for injuries including a broken jaw.
YSI’s Palm Beach Facility currently houses more than 100 minors. Rather than incarcerating so many young people in large, prison-like facilities, our state should invest in the future of our children. DJJ should place young people in community-based programs and small therapeutic settings which have proven to be more effective in rehabilitation, reducing crime, helping young people turn their lives around, and promoting public safety.
Tell DJJ to protect our children and close this troubled facility now!
ACLU of Florida