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.
Carol Marbin Miller
Senior investigative reporter
Audra D.S. Burch
Senior enterprise writer
Senior editor/investigations and enterprise
Social media director
Charles Trainor Jr.
McClatchy Digital Creative Director
Director of information services
Data analysis and fact checking
Transcription and fact checking
Luis F. Castro
Juvenile detention officer arrested for civil rights violations resulting in teen’s death Andrew Emett / NationofChange / News Report
Carol Marbin Miller talks winning war of secrecy, truth in Lucy Morgan reporting award speech
By Staff Reports Florida Politics
After ‘Fight Club’, Brandes, NAACP demand answers, changes By Mary Ellen Klas The Buzz
NAACP demands reform as lawmakers plan tour of lockup where youth was fatally beaten
By Carol Marbin Miller
Miami Herald’s Fight Club series a finalist for prestigious Goldsmith Prize MIAMI HERALD STAFF
A Fight Club grand jury is right call
MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD
Officer accused of bribing youths to savagely assault 17-year-old detainee. The teen died.
BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER
Florida should shut down youth-detention centers where ‘fight clubs’ thrive
BY CANDICE JONES, PATRICK MCCARTHY AND VINCENT SCHIRALDI