103. Eckerd Youth Alternatives
The founders Jack and Ruth Eckerd started it because they wanted to help teenagers, but a quick search reveals it did not go that way. Wilderness programs had deaths among the boys attending the programs. Residential facilities got their contracts revoked.
Here are some examples:
- In 2008, a detainee at the Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility in the Panhandle told the state’s child abuse hotline that a staffer ordered other workers to stand down while detainees attacked her. “Let them fight,” the worker said — and her colleagues did. The girl told investigators her life was in danger. The allegation was substantiated.
- In 2009, DJJ confirmed allegations that, on Easter Sunday, the program director of Camp E-Kel-Etu in the Ocala National Forest loaded a small boy suspected in the theft of hygiene supplies into a truck, and drove him to an off-campus service road. The director of the program, since closed, brought an older boy with him to terrorize the kid into spilling what he knew, an internal report said. When the director returned to the campsite, he rounded up four other “little boys” — the youngest was 11 — and stuck them in a supply room with two older youths, said an internal DJJ report. The gear room housed canoe paddles that he hinted could be used as weapons. He “picked up a paddle and threatened to allow” the bigger youths to “beat up the younger and smaller boys,” one of the younger detainees told investigators. Rather than get whacked with a paddle, one of the boys talked.
- In 2010, two detainees at the St. Johns Youth Academy claimed a staffer had ordered them to jump another teen, saying “someone needs to fight him.”
The worker opened the victim’s door, and let the attackers in, the two intruders told investigators. One punched the 17-year-old in the face, leaving a gash; the other choked him so violently he suffered three fractured neck vertebrae.The program operator concluded “staff intentionally unlocked the door” so the youth could be beaten. The worker was fired. But a DJJ investigation called “inconclusive” the allegation that the officer set up the attack, saying it was his word against that of the two boys.
- In 2011, a 16-year-old at the Hillsborough West Detention Center told an investigator he “slammed” his roommate after a worker promised him an extra snack. The 15-year-old victim said his roommate picked him up — twice — and threw him down on the floor both times. The victim hurt his right ankle.When an assistant superintendent interviewed the attacker, he admitted everything. “You already know what happened,” he said. “I slammed him. It wasn’t personal. I didn’t even get the snack.”DJJ reported that the staffer failed “to conduct himself in a professional manner.” He was fired.
It did not sound like fun places to be as a teenager.
- Lightning Blasted his Shoes off — and Illuminated a Pattern of Abuse by Staff (Miami Herald – Jeffrey Butts website))
- Riots threatened at St. Augustine youth detention facility, deputies say (Action Ajax News)
- Teen Girls Molested at Youth Prison (Health News Florida)