A recent Miami Herald Investigation, titled “Fight Club” exposes the horrors taking place in Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice. From beatings instigated by corrections officers for their enjoyment, to sexual assaults, what has been allowed to take place in the Juvenile Justice system is so shocking that some of the reports are traumatic to read. You can only imagine the effect the brutal treatment had on the Juveniles.
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The Department of Juvenile Justice calls its philosophy “tough love.”
But a Miami Herald I-Team analysis of 10 years of seldom-seen records reveals an emphasis on the “tough.”
Documents, interviews and surveillance videos show a disturbing pattern of beatings doled out or ordered by underpaid officers, hundreds of them prison system rejects. Youthful enforcers are rewarded with sweet pastries from the employee vending machines, a phenomenon known as “honey-bunning.” The Herald found fights staged for entertainment, wagering and to exert control, sex between staff and youthful detainees and a culture of see-nothing/say-nothing denial.
Herald journalists also examined 12 questionable deaths of detained youths since 2000.
In the end, untold numbers of already troubled youths have been further traumatized.
With a one-year recidivism rate of 45 percent, it is a justice system that is supposed to reform juvenile delinquents, but too often turns them into hardened felons.