A shocking investigation into the Florida juvenile justice system has revealed incompetent supervision, questionable if not poor healthcare, cover-ups and faux investigations, unlawful sex and more. Some fights are even instigated by corrections staff for the price of food.
The Miami Herald‘s investigators began with the death of a 17-year-old boy named Elord Revolte, who was beaten by other youth as corrections officers did nothing. Two cameras filmed the abuse, which ended with the 135-pound boy laying in a heap on the floor.
“I swung a punch,” Revolte explained before his death. “I hit him. He swung two punches. He hit me. I swung one punch and then I grabbed his shirt and hit him again. Then I slammed him on his head and I hit him. … All my friends, they start jumping over the chairs, while Elord was on the floor and they went to stomping on him.”
Less than two days later, he was dead from internal bleeding related to the fight that nurses waited a day to treat him. He was one of 12 children who have been killed in juvenile detention since 2000. Deaths from “asphyxiation, a violent takedown by staff, a hanging, a youth-on-youth beating and untreated illnesses or injuries, none has resulted in an employee serving a day in prison,” The Herald reported.
Two youths involved said that the beating was instigated not by the inmates, a gang or Revolte, but by a detention officer. Yet, no one was charged or convicted with a crime, because the State Attorney’s Office said the two different angles didn’t capture the identities of those involved. The only accountability came from an internal investigation that ended in the firing of five officers.
“They treated my child worse than a dog,” said Enoch Revolte, Elord’s father. “My child wasn’t a dog. My son deserves justice.”
While The Herald did an in depth investigation into his death and confirmed the use of pastry for abuse, when the Department of Juvenile Justice did its own investigation, they found nothing, claiming insufficient evidence.
His is just one of the “dark secrets” in the state’s juvenile justice system, The Herald explained, and it could happen again and again and again, because there has been no accountability for the actions. It’s left children in danger, other employees, desperate to do the right thing, in peril, and parents frustrated, fearful and suffering from the loss of a child.
Dating back 10 years, both state-run juvenile detention centers revealed staff turning kids ages 13 to 18 into hired mercenaries all for a Little Debbie Honey Bun. It’s how the staff enforces their control without risking their jobs or even having to lift their nightstick.
Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Christina Daly, swears that her agency won’t tolerate actions like this.
“The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has been and continues to be committed to reform of the juvenile justice system in Florida. We have worked over the past six years to ensure that youths receive the right services in the right place and that our programs and facilities are nurturing and safe for the youths placed in our custody,” she told The Herald.
But now, everything might become public in a trial where a teen is charged with murder. “The victim’s mother says he was groomed by staff at the lockup to beat people up,” The Herald reported. The person who shot her son was allegedly beaten by him while in lockup.
These are just a few of the many inefficiencies named in the extensive report the goes into detail about the ways surveillance was circumvented as well as underpaid officers with little training were forced to deal with you that had significant mental illnesses and other necessary requirements.
Mark Steward, once served as the director of the Missouri Division of Youth Services is credited for turning his models into a national system after 17 years of research and service. He’s specifically called out the pipeline created by such juvenile justice systems. Instead of taking a young mind and preventing a pathway to prison, it’s the other way around.
“Everybody should feel shame for letting this happen. Everybody. Legislators, the governor, the people running these programs,” he said.