Pubdate: Fri, 24 Feb 2006
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2006 The Miami Herald
Author: Marc Caputo And Carol Marbin Miller
Bookmark: (Youth)


TALLAHASSEE - In the aftermath of Martin Lee Anderson's death after 
he was beaten by guards at a juvenile boot camp, state officials want 
sheriffs to do away with the violent ways of handling kids: No more 
punches. No more pepper spray. No stun guns.

The Department of Juvenile Justice has told the sheriffs who run the 
state's five boot camps that the measures will help ensure there will 
never again be an incident that resembles the videotaped beating of 
the 14-year-old at the Bay Boot Camp by a scrum of kneeing and 
punching military-style drill instructors.

Among the measures DJJ wants:

* Ban the punching, kneeing, wrist-twisting and 
pressure-point-pushing on nonviolent kids, and prohibit the use of 
"electronic devices" like stun guns and the use of "chemical agents," 
such as mace-like pepper spray.

* A nurse must be present when youths exercise, and must have 
complete authority to halt it and call 911.

* Give each youth an EKG heart-stress test, a complete physical and drug test.

* Ensure cameras and defibrillators are readily available.

Some of the sheriffs, such as Polk County's Grady Judd, say the 
measures, spelled out in individual conversations with DJJ, are good. 
But Judd said his guards don't use the violent techniques, and added 
that some of the measures the state wants, such as new equipment, 
will require extra money from the Legislature. Boot-camp experts and 
lawmakers who have scrutinized DJJ-related deaths liked what little 
they heard, but still had criticisms

"These sound like good things. The question is: Where have they been 
all this time? A lot of those things, I'm shocked they're talking 
about this late in the game," said state Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami 
Beach Democrat who is a former federal prosecutor who helped convict 
police officers in brutality cases. DJJ officials told The Miami 
Herald they would not discuss the policy changes, which still must 
pass muster with legislative leaders.


Gelber and the rest of his colleagues on the House justice 
appropriations committee were surprised Thursday when DJJ's number 
two man, Chris Caballero, refused to say whether boot-camp guards 
were legally allowed to inflict pain on nonthreatening children who 
won't comply with simple commands, such as running laps.

Caballero said he wasn't sure what use-of-force policies applied to 
which boot camps and when. The camps, which sheriffs run under 
contract with DJJ, are allowed to use more-violent means to control 
kids than other lockups.

While refusing to tell lawmakers about the policy overhaul, Caballero 
ducked specifics, saying an answer to the pain-infliction question 
could affect the investigation into Martin's death on Jan. 6. 
Caballero said use-of-force standards generally forbid the nonmedical 
use of ammonia agents on kids as well as knees to the back -- both of 
which Martin apparently sustained. He added that pain infliction can 
be used in some cases, but wouldn't say whether it can be used on 
kids who are nonviolent. Miami Beach Democrat, on proposals to ban 
boot-camp guards from punching and using other violent techniques

answer that's applicable here," he said. "It depends on the 
situation. If it's appropriate to use hammer strikes [punches] or 
knee strikes, then it is used. If it's not appropriate then someone 
is acting outside of the scope of their employment and therefore it's 
outside the scope of the employment and is breaching the curriculum 
and their training."

Caballero would not say what's "appropriate," saying such a 
definition was "in the standards" -- referring to the state's 
voluminous Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, a 
Florida Department of Law Enforcement group that develops guidelines 
for law-enforcement officers. But the training-commission standards 
may not apply to most of the guards at Florida's juvenile boot camps.


Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen has decided to close the Panama 
City boot camp within 90 days. Before announcing he would close the 
camp, McKeithen also said he banned the use of ammonia agents, which 
are supposed to be used to revive kids. In the tape showing Martin's 
manhandling, guards appear to shove the ammonia repeatedly in his 
face. Shauna Manning, mother of a 14-year-old boy who said he 
witnessed the incident at the boot camp, said her son told her the 
guards used the tablets all the time to instill discipline -- and 
fear. "They're real sick. They get pleasure out of torturing 
children," she said. Caballero suggested to the legislative committee 
that the use of ammonia agents in that fashion wasn't permitted for guards.

"Ammonia is not considered a part of their training and their 
curriculum. Therefore, it can only be used for medical purposes," 
Caballero said. "It's not part of their everyday behavior 
modification program as it relates to this particular training 
program with which this staff is certified."