Male teens at Avon Park Youth Academy, a juvenile detention facility, destroyed eighteen of the 20 buildings on the premises, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage; the teens also sparked two fires during the riot, injuring seven people. Avon Park Youth Academy is a non-secure, 144-bed, moderate-risk program for males in the juvenile justice system between the ages of 16 and 19 years old. Rioters took a guard’s radio and all of the staff golf carts, and set fire to a building containing the teens’ records. A trash bin was also set ablaze. Roughly 150 law enforcement officials, including K-9 units, SWAT team and air support, eventually forced the juveniles to surrender. Facility staff are forbidden from using specialty equipment, including pepper spray, which would have allowed them to deal with the fight before it escalated, authorities said.
Once processed in the juvenile court system there are many different pathways for juveniles. Whereas some juveniles are released directly back into the community to undergo community-based rehabilitative programs, some juveniles appear to the State as posing a greater threat to society and to themselves and thus must endure time in a supervised juvenile detention center.
Detention centers in Florida are for youth who are detained under specific circumstances set by Florida statute. There are 21 facilities divided into 3 regions throughout the state of Florida. They hold youth that are awaiting court dates or placement in a residential facility.
Secure detention means that juveniles are held for usually short periods of time in juvenile detention facilities in order to await current trial hearings and further placement decisions. By holding juveniles in secure detention, the State feels an assurance of an appearance in court while also keeping the community safe and risk-free of the juvenile. This type of facility is commonly referred to as “juvenile hall,” which is a holding center for juvenile delinquents. On the other hand, secure confinement implies that the juvenile has been committed by the court into the custody of a secure juvenile correctional facility for the duration of a specific program, which can span from a few months to many years.
Every juvenile detention center is subject to a number of both general and personal problems, whether classified as a non-secure facility, as is Avon Park, or a secure facility such as the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). The Duval JDC is a 100 bed, hardware secure facility that serves youth detained by various circuit courts throughout Florida. Youth are detained pending adjudication, disposition or placement in commitment facility.
A typical day in secure detention at the Duval JDC typically involves hygiene, meals, school, structured physical and educational activities, and court appearance as scheduled. The average length of stay in this secure detention is approximately 11 days. Unfortunately not every juvenile escapes this short span of time in detention unharmed. Consider one example of a 16-year-old St. Johns County boy who was sent to the Duval County Detention Center to await trial on violation of probation and possession of drug paraphernalia charges. While detained in the facility, the boy was jumped by two other boys near midnight and was badly beaten, resulting in a broken leg, multiple abrasions on his face and injuries to his eye.
The St. Johns County Judge who sent the boy there hadn’t known of the beating, and was angry when he saw the boy at a scheduled court date. According to the ensuing investigation, there was no report of any action by officers or JDC employees to stop the beating. This beating happened at a secure facility, where constant supervision is required. Contrast this to a non-secure facility: In a non-secure facility, youth are not confined to their rooms during the day. Youth are allowed to move about without handcuffs or shackles for activities, while still accompanied by staff at all times. Teens are taught job skills and receive mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Many times, when a juvenile is facing a charge, it is not just the juvenile but the juvenile’s parents who face the charge with them. If one or a loved one is a juvenile and is facing a criminal charge, one should not take the risk of being sent to any juvenile facility, secure or non-secure. One needs an experienced Jacksonville juvenile criminal defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: 7 injured in riot at Florida juvenile detention facility, Kelli Kennedy, The Bradenton Herald