Florida should shut down youth-detention centers where ‘fight clubs’ thrive

BY CANDICE JONES, PATRICK MCCARTHY AND VINCENT SCHIRALDI
publicwelfare.org
aecf.org
vs2637@columbia.edu

PAGE FOUR

A Fight Club grand jury is right call

MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD

FIGHT CLUB

A MIAMI HERALD INVESTIGATION INTO FLORIDA'S JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM


By Carol Marbin Miller
Senior investigative reporter

And Team


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.


THE TEAM

Carol Marbin Miller
Senior investigative reporter
Audra D.S. Burch
Senior enterprise writer
Casey Frank
Senior editor/investigations and enterprise
Eddie Alvarez
Senior editor/digital
Aaron Albright
Interactive storyteller
Noel Gonzalez
Social media director
Orlando Mellado
Visuals editor
Justin Azpiazu
Video lead
Emily Michot
Visual journalist
Matias Ocner
Video editor
Charles Trainor Jr.
Photographer
Jessica Gilbert
McClatchy Digital Creative Director
Damian Franco
Data analysis
Marco Ruiz
Graphics artist
Kara Dapena
News developer
Monika Leal
Director of information services
Elizabeth Koh
Data analysis and fact checking
Samantha Gross
Transcription and fact checking
Mary Behne
Copy editor
Luis F. Castro
Print designer
Alex Mena 
Section editor