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More allegations of abuse at Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)


Vancouver, WA (April 19, 2007)Florida’s children continue to be abused in DJJ facilities.

CAICA recently reported abuse that has occurred at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

New information has been released: allegations of abuse at another DJJ program, Manatee Adolescent Treatment Services located at 1324 37th Avenue East, Bradenton, Florida (CCC Incident #2007-02507).

Several days ago Guard Williams at Manatee allegedly choked two youth. The first youth was allegedly chocked on April 15, the exact time is unsure. The second was allegedly choked the same day, immediately following the first youth’s choking incident.

Six witnesses were present. They want to testify on behalf of the boys who were abused but they are scared – scared they will be retaliated against and that their time will be extended. This has been normal practice at DJJ facilities so these boys know what the consequences can be for coming forward.

Preliminary reports are that Williams choked the first youth until he was unconscious, his eyes rolled back in his head and he started to “flop around like a fish”. When he came to, Williams allegedly repeated this process four times. He then proceeded to do the same thing to the second youth. Witnesses attempted to turn on the cameras so the incident would be caught on tape. The police were called and a report was filed.

No child in America should have to live daily in fear for their safety. However, we have seen time and time again where children who are serving time in the Florida Juvenile Justice System are living in fear for the safety.

The sad part is that it is the adults who the children fear – these adults should be there to care for, guide, mentor, and teach them. Some of these children have spent their entire adolescents, up to five years or more, locked up in this fear-based system. Instead of showing compassion these guards treat these boys worse than criminals. Most of these children, some who enter the system as young as 12 years old and younger, did nothing that should have resulted in them being locked up and abused, neglected, or killed.

Some of these children have been incarcerated for borrowing their grandmother’s car or a school-yard fight, things that are normal teen behavior that should be dealt with at home.

Father Mark Caldwell, who knows all too well about abuse at DJJ, wrote to DJJ Secretary, Walter McNeil, stating, “It seems we now have another problem that requires your immediate attention. A staff member at this facility (Manatee) as you can see is causing permanent brain damage to these youth by cutting off oxygen to their brains, this is a very severe type of abuse, I expect to hear of your prompt action today.


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