Complaints Continue Over Private FL Youth Prisons; Company Defensive


Youth Services International confronted a potentially expensive situation in 2004, reports the Huffington Post. Three months into the private prison company's $9.5 million contract to run Thompson Academy, a juvenile prison in Florida, the facility had become a scene of documented violence and neglect. One guard fractured an inmate’s elbow after the boy refused instructions to throw away a cup, another guard slammed a boy’s head into the floor after an argument. The prison was infested with ants and cockroaches, and toilets were clogged.

A monitor recommended that the facility be closed, but the company used connections with state officials to complain that he was intimidating staff, and he was fired. In the nine years since, the company has won an additional eight contracts in Florida, bringing 4,100 more youths through its facilities. All the while, complaints of abuse and neglect have remained constant. In an emailed response to questions, a company official said its juvenile prisons are some of the best in Florida and that the state's Department of Juvenile Justice rigorously inspects the facilities.

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