Fight Club: A Miami Herald Investigation into Florida’s juvenile justice system
The Department of Juvenile Justice calls its philosophy “tough love.”
But a Miami Herald I-Team analysis of 10 years of seldom-seen records reveals an emphasis on the “tough.”
Documents, interviews and surveillance videos show a disturbing pattern of beatings doled out or ordered by underpaid officers, hundreds of them prison system rejects. Youthful enforcers are rewarded with sweet pastries from the employee vending machines, a phenomenon known as “honey-bunning.” The Herald found fights staged for entertainment, wagering and to exert control, sex between staff and youthful detainees and a culture of see-nothing/say-nothing denial.
Herald journalists also examined 12 questionable deaths of detained youths since 2000.
In the end, untold numbers of already troubled youths have been further traumatized.
With a one-year recidivism rate of 45 percent, it is a justice system that is supposed to reform juvenile delinquents, but too often turns them into hardened felons.