A Florida legislator is calling on the state to close its military-style boot camps for juvenile delinquents after a 14-year-old boy died just hours after entering one of the facilities.
“These programs are not working ... this shock-and-awe mentality on a kid,” said state Rep. Gustavo “Gus” Barreiro, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee. “We need to shut these things down.”
Gov. Jeb Bush also believes lawmakers should take a hard look at the juvenile facilities. Asked about the boot camps Wednesday, Bush said: “All of our programs ought to be under review.”
“We still have questions, questions on the autopsy and questions on the procedures,” Bush said.
The Department of Juvenile Justice is reviewing all sheriff’s office policies for the camps in light of last week’s death of Martin Lee Anderson, said spokeswoman Cynthia Lorenzo.
Anderson was sent to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office camp because of an arrest for grand theft.
He had to be restrained when he became uncooperative following exercises as part of the entry process at the Panama City camp, authorities said. He soon complained of breathing difficulties and collapsed. He died the next day a Pensacola hospital.
The family’s attorney says the boy was abused and has filed an intent to sue.
“There’s a lot that just doesn’t add up,” attorney Ben Crump said. He said the youngster had a cut lip, bloody nose and an abrasion on the side of his face.
The victim’s mother, Gina Jones, said her son was in good physical shape. He stood about 6-foot-1 and weighed about 140 pounds, she said.
Sheriff’s investigators have not completed a preliminary report on the youngster’s death, but a Bay County sheriff’s spokeswoman denied that Anderson was abused. The state gave the camp a good review in a June 2004 quality assurance report.
The state Department of Juvenile Justice’s records show that 62 percent of graduates from the several camps around the state are re-arrested after release. The camps are run by county sheriff’s offices under contract from the state.