December 5, 2003
Children need to be exposed to reading positive literature. Some of our
June 2, 2003
Please help us. I work in a JDC not too far from
Pinellas and this place is totally out of control. We currently have 8
positions available and they wont fill them. We are seriously understaffed and
I'm afraid that one of these kids might possibly be killed at the hands of one
of their peers and we won't have available man power to stop it. It has now
been common practice in my facility to only have one staff assigned to each
mod due to flexing staff for no overtime, court runs, or training outside of
the facility that could be handled in the building. These people really don't
care and this place is a time-bomb. I hate this job for what these people done
but unfortunately I have a spouse and children to support. The people running
DJJ in this area have really screwed things up and until Bankhead changes them
we might possibly see more incidents like what happened at Pinellas.
This whole place [Riverside Academy, a Department of Juvenile Justice residential substance abuse treatment facility] is a huge, privatized, government money funded, lazy CEO run, ant infested pile of garbage. I figured the whole thing out -somebody decided kids should get some kind of treatment for their problems instead of going to jail. That person started a bunch of programs around the state. Then somebody else comes along - sees they're getting tons of cash from the state - and decides to fake the whole thing for twice the profit and make a huge file of worth-less paper work on each kid to make it look like they're actually helping the community.
Please save our youth... A grandmother's plea.
May 7, 2003
My grandson is being held in Pinellas JDC. The waiting periods are too long. These teenager can get involved in things that can prolong their stay. Teenagers that are involved in a misdemeanor should not be held more than five day before a court appearance. All teenagers should have an attorney for their court date. Someone should make sure these children are not abused by guards or the court system.
These teenagers should have trained personnel to help them cope with the problems they are having. Teenage suicide is growing in America.
Please save our youths.
July 8, 2001
Parents are telling me that DJJ people are telling them to schedule a separate hearing to request "cost of care" waivers for the "good parent" reason. Most of these parents have children in JDC and they have another court hearing coming up at some point in the near future. To avoid wasting their time, and the court's time (and taxpayer dollars), the parent should be told this issue can be handled at their NEXT court hearing (NOT to schedule a separate hearing). Most parents have wasted hours in court waiting for their name to come up on the docket; they don't need to waste an additional day to discuss cost of care.
The other part of this equation is to have the judge actually handle this issue at the NEXT scheduled hearing. Hopefully, someone like you can convey to the judges how lame it is (lame for everyone) when they set a separate court date to address this specific issue...like Judge Fleming did to me...THREE court appearances that should have been settled in ONE........I'd like someone to explain to me how that was wise spending of taxpayer dollars!!!!
July 9, 2001
At my last meeting with the Judges, I discussed how they would like to handle
the hearings. If parents have additional court hearings scheduled, they can talk
with the judge about the cost of care. If not, then a court hearing would need
to be set, it is important to determine the cost of care as soon as possible.
July 13, 2001
Some parents who have been previously ordered to pay detention fees are now requesting a waiver or reduction of those fees based on the "good parent" criteria of Chapter 985 of the FL Statutes.
Now we need to go a step further. It is only fair that EVERYONE who appears in court for a detention hearing be informed, AT THAT TIME, of their rights concerning this. When the judge initially addresses cost of care, as required by law, they need to be informing the parents of ALL three options for waivers and reductions, not just the "inability to pay" option.
The judges should also discuss the "victim" option, if applicable. This option was applicable in my case, but never addressed by the court until several months later when I requested a separate court hearing to request waiver of fees.
The unbiased judge
should give this information to parents in an unbiased
Who will follow through on this?
Cost of Care Invoices...Your invoice is most likely wrong. The following 4 messages is an attempt to get it right.
1. August 6, 2001
While adjustments are being made to reflect the new cost of care fees, the invoicing should be put "on hold". This is a waste of staff time, paper and postage! Also, many bills (including mine) have not been adjusted for waivers or reductions that were court-approved several months ago!
When calling 1-888-335-3201, the recorded message should include information regarding the recent cost of care modifications ($5.00/day maximum) and the message should also convey that invoice corrections will be forthcoming. The message says "If you would like information about obtaining a waiver or reduction to a cost of care invoice you have recently received, please contact your child's JPO or the detention center in which your child was detained." I called the Pinellas Detention Center today, and the JDC staff doesn't know anything about waivers or reductions. They told me to call the Clerk of Court. The court does not know. Most JPO's are not knowledgeable about the waiver/reduction specifics. They, and the judges, need to be educated about the recent changes to the fees as well as ALL three options for requesting waivers or reductions.
2. August 7, 2001
We have reviewed your account activity and determined that you did receive judicial waivers for your account. We have applied the waivers and your account balance is now $0.00. You should receive no more invoices on this account. On July 30 we received a legal opinion that allows us to begin charging the new rates. We immediately suspended the printing and processing of invoices at the old rates and began the process of revising our system to reflect the new rates. Once our system revision is complete we will begin printing and processing the new invoices. I will discuss your suggestions regarding the recorded message on the 1-800 number with my staff. We will change the message as appropriate. Please let me know if you have any more questions or suggestions.
3. August 7, 2001
I am in contact with quite a few parents who also have not had their waivers acknowledged. Does every parent have to separately request that their file be updated?
4. August 7, 2001 Steve.Casey@djj.state.fl.us writes:
Yes they will have
to request this update through their assigned JPO who is authorized to enter the
waiver information. Once it is in the system the accounting staff deal with it
from that point on unless there is a court ordered change.
July 13, 2001
Tim [Niermann], please pick the person who would be responsible for these issues: Children who stay at JDC should not be called OFFENDERS. A JDC staff member recently told me that the staff were retrained - to call the children OFFENDERS instead of INMATES. Well, that is certainly progress, but it is still inaccurate and offensive. Many children in JDC are not OFFENDERS (Innocent until proven guilty!)
They should be called ALLEGED OFFENDERS, or, better yet, call them JUVENILES or DETAINEES. Or call them RESIDENTS, like the Johnson County JDC in Kansas does.
Feb 11, 2002
Catherine.Arnold@djj.state.fl.us, Director, Communications Office, DJJ,
August 8, 2001
At the detention center our starting pay is $22,000 a year; we are expected to deal with all kinds of youths, with drug, sexual, suicidal, psychological, temper, and mental problems, even though we have never been trained to. We are forced to work overtime (16 hours) with short notice, which creates burnout, which leads to short tempers and poor decisions towards youth. The staff to youth ratio is poor and more attention is placed on our appearance rather than our and the youths’ needs. We are under paid, trained and staffed at the center. We are the only detention center that received “deemed status” which means we complied with all the standards. The staff here cares a lot, but the resources we need are limited…which reflects on the treatment of youth. We need help, we have tried to voice our opinions, but we are shot down… The leadership here stinks; promotions are given by who knows who, not on [a] person’s abilities. Rules are set and broken by staff in upper positions, with no consequences. Upper management rarely shows up for work on time, if they show up at all. Sick leave is highly abused; there is no accountability at all. Some people in certain positions are not qualified to do the job, and are ignored. We need every person to be accountable for what they do, there is no discipline. Sometimes we don’t receive our forced overtime pay, which leads to call-ins (sick), leading to poor moral, which affects our attitude towards youth. The main person who has an effect on our poor performance is Mr. Raggett. Please be a voice for us and help us. Please help weed out the bad people here, so we can function more efficiently. If we speak up we are targeted as troublemakers. I wish to remain anonymous, as I will be fired, Thanks.
Follow Up: A Voice from Inside was forwarded to Larry Lumpee, Assistant Secretary of Detention, FL Department of Juvenile Justice (850-921-6291) in Tallahassee Larry.Lumpee@djj.state.fl.us
Mr. Lumpee responded within minutes to justice4kids, on 8/9/01, with this message
August 15, 2001
I am writing to all of you to also let you know, as my fellow officers did [A Voice from Inside], that most of what they have said is true. I myself have been disrespected and threatened by fellow officers and when brought to the attention of my supervisor, I was told to "stop making waves". There were no discipline actions taken against these officers even though they had not only violated the DJJ Rules and Regulations, but had also violated criminal laws as well. No actions were taken because they are in what some Officers call "the [clique]". The [clique] is made up of the officers on the floor and certain supervisors that spend [a lot] of time together inside and outside the work place on a [regular] basis, or are related in some form. I have often seen a form of [nepotism] practiced there; where you are promoted depending on your status as a relative, rather than seniority, experience, or ability. You wouldn't dare make one of these officers mad. If you do, you will have to endure threats. Staff and supervisors will go out of there way to put you in danger, just to show the rest of the officers you don't mess with "the [cliques]". I have both seen and been victim of this treatment. This will happen if you go above the supervisors, as well. The only thing I do not agree with in what my fellow officer wrote, is that the officers care about the children. There are about 30% of the officers that do care about your children. The rest of the officers look at it as a pay check only. And, if a child messes up they, are [dealt] with in a [manner] that no human should have to go through. This is often through excessive force and pain. Some officers, I [believe], enjoy watching a child scream and beg them to stop. Then it is a simple matter of covering it up in the report. I hope all parents out there take note. If your child is in or has ever been in the Pinellas JDC he/she is very likely to go through this treatment.
This was received from justice4kids Contact Us
August 31, 2001
Take for example the situation of reading materials as recently reported in the St. Petersburg Times article [Book ban hinders rehabilitation and Books off limits in youths' cells]. It is appalling and unacceptable that adults are allowed to read in their cells and further their education while incarcerated and juveniles are not allowed the same freedoms.
The Juvenile Detention Centers’ first concern should be educating the children in their care. A part of a well-rounded education is reading. Reading also helps the child pass time in a constructive way. The Florida Juvenile System is creating an atmosphere of boredom and despair when what it should be doing is educating and helping these children.
It is provided for under Florida law that at no time shall juvenile punishment be more severe than adult punishment for a similar crime. I interpret that to mean that children cannot be denied the same rights as given to adults under similar conditions. Such denial is unlawful. I understand that incarcerated individuals are not allowed weapons. I have read Florida’s legal description of what is considered weapons and no intelligent individual could mistake a book for a weapon under that description (which is probably why adults are allowed to have them).
Please take the time to investigate this and correct me if I am wrong and if I am right, please fix the situation. Please be advised that there are a large number of concerned parents in Florida that are concerned with the denial of books as well as many other inadequacies of the system. The St Petersburg Times article is the tip of the iceberg. A few dedicated individuals have stepped forward to champion children’s rights and they are becoming very effective. I support them and I know many others who support them as well.
We should all be concerned with helping these children help themselves. After all, good or bad, these children are part of out most precious commodity and are our future. Talking about rehabilitating them will not solve anything. Instead we must do what we can to help and salvage these children. Allowing books and educational items in their cells is a good start. Let the children read.
September 1, 2001
If you allow the children to have book in the rooms you are only asking for trouble. The youth that are in JDC are in for one reason or another some are in for serious crimes. I have seen first hand what can happen when you allow a some children to have books in there rooms they rip out the pages and put them in the locks to prevent the doors from locking. Then when given the opportunity they will come out and attempt to escape or take the opportunity to attack another youth. There is plenty of time given to the children to read. they go to school 5 days a week. If its the Bible they want to read they go to church 5 days a week also. At one time the children did take books into there rooms and it became a problem. The children also even rip out pages of the Bible I know your saying not my child. Those parents that are saying this are the ones that there children are doing it. I am an officer of the detention and the writer of don't make waves. I can say this is a dangerous practice having books in the children’s rooms.
September 1, 2001
Dear DJJ Ofcr
Thanks for your note.....
We know that the children have the opportunity to read during their school/church time. What concerns us is the numerous hours they spend in their room with nothing to do but sleep. This is an opportune time to keep occupied, learn and expand their horizons.
My son recently spent 4 weeks and another 2 weeks in the Johnson County JDC in Olathe, Kansas. That facility houses an average of 70 youth. In their locked rooms, the youth are allowed a book, photo and 2 letters. My son read 2 novels during his 2nd stay there (2 week period).
My son also said that during his 6 weeks at that facility, there was NO assaults or altercations between youth and staff, nor among the youth . He also said he NEVER heard profanity from any staff. I saw the facility and met some of the staff. I could immediately tell there was a difference between that JDC and the Pinellas County JDC. I asked my son what he thought. He said "In Kansas, they care". I was treated differently. My questions were all answered graciously. Nobody ever got defensive. They readily told me about the population count, schooling, the multitude of volunteers. They told me "we are proud of our facility"
So, I have SEEN the difference. And, the results make a big difference.
Also, FYI, the following communication indicates that the very same children that CAN'T read a book in their room at JDC are the very same children that CAN read a book in their room once they arrive at their placement facility (including lock-down facilities). ........ SAME children!........ these children don't change overnight! Why the "problems" when they are at JDC........ then, no "problems" when they are at a residential commitment facility?!?!?!?
Please continue to keep us informed with your views.
Are books allowed in youths confined sleeping areas at residential commitment facilities?
Yes juveniles in residential commitment facilities are permitted to have books in the sleeping areas.
June 5, 2003
If Bush is sooo set on FCAT's and how everyone should read
then where are the books for these kids? They sit around all day with little to
do, they have church people going in there to tell them about God but they do
not have real books to read!!!
September 9, 2001
I wrote this open letter to James Uliasz the Superintendent at Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Personal experience and too many stories from parents, youth and staff about staff shortages and the repercussions it has on the welfare of detained youth are too much to ignore!
Pinellas Regional JDC-Inadequate Staffing Problems (minimum staffing/mandatory overtime)
This facility is severely understaffed and JDO's [Juvenile Detention Officers] work excessive hours. For several months, this message has been consistently conveyed by staff, youth and parents.
With JDO's regularly working mandatory overtime (often 16 hour shifts), our detained youth are in jeopardy. Bad attitudes, short tempers and poor decisions are the results of staff being expected to work beyond a reasonable workday/workweek schedule.
The daily assaults and disruptions in this facility are appalling! When one youth is disruptive and taken to his/her room, the rest of the youth are put in their rooms for inappropriate lengths of time, where they languish! This is for "safety and security" when the facility is minimally staffed (2 officers per mod for day shifts). It is obvious that the remaining officer can't handle the other 23 youth, but this Minimum Staffing Pattern is ludicrous. It causes more restlessness and frustration in the youth, which results in more outbursts, and a cycle of continual problems. The youth do NOTHING in their room (no book to read!). Their anger often escalates to the point of an altercation whereby the youth incurs a felony charge for battery on a staff person! This could all be avoided if staffing was adequate.
In the past year, my son was detained at this facility approximately 7 weeks . He also spent 6 weeks in the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center in Olathe, Kansas. What a difference in the facility and the staff! My son and I both noticed how remarkably well-run the Kansas facility was. I was always greeted and assisted courteously, honorably, and openly. All questions were answered - even population count and staffing ratios !! They told me they were proud of their facility. They spoke highly of the well-stocked library, the wonderful schooling, and the volunteers. They didn't have to tell me this, because it showed in their actions! The teacher called me (unsolicited !) to discuss my son's curriculum. My son read several books during the scheduled "room time", and this time in the room never exceeded the posted schedule. My son said he never heard profanity from the staff, nor was he ever treated disrespectfully. He also never witnessed an assault, nor heard of an assault occurring. At the Pinellas JDC, my son and others say that staff profanity is constant. Also conveyed by my son, other youth, and staff is that assaults occur daily.
Why the problems here? The main differences between the facilities seem to be education, training, and attitude!
It is in the best interest of youth and staff that these problems be addressed immediately.
We can all learn from others! Please contact:
"It is okay for staff members to physically abuse youths..." More from inside!
September 10, 2001
I was an employee at the Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center for 3 years and was a victim from the second I walked in. Not only is there prejudice between staff and inmates but also among staff. At one time I was the only white female staff on my shift and because I dated an African American male I was verbally and emotionally abused. I would cry all the way home everyday. I wanted to cry all day but could not because of the repercussions I would receive. I went to supervisors for help but was only treated worse. Thankfully I left that job so I don't have to feel sick to my stomach every day knowing what I would have to endure. I have seen staff act in unprofessional ways inside and outside of work. If you drug tested all of the staff there you would have to let 75% of your staff go. The only supervisor out there that was fair and professional was Mr. Terence Bascom. Which is another issue. It is okay for all the other staff in that facility to do drugs, drink and act in ways that are unbecoming of an officer yet instead of helping someone who had been in a bad personal situation and had given 16 years of great service to your facility you give him the option of either being terminated or for him to resign. Instead of giving of yourselves and giving him the treatment that he needed you have lost a wonderful asset who was loyal and dependable to your facility. But it is okay for a female staff to steal from other staff members and the actual facility and treat other staff like dogs. It is okay for her to have a rumored second job of stealing from stores and selling the merchandise for personal gain. It is okay for her to abuse prescription drugs. It is okay for the male staff to sexually harass female staff. It is okay for staff members to physically abuse youths in the facility and cover it up with a good report. I have seen all of these instances and I am ashamed of actually being a part of the Pinellas JDC team at one time. How are we role models for these kids when staff can't even follow rules and regulations or even the law. How come it is okay for staff who are preachers and supervisors to cheat, lie, judge, and show prejudices towards people. I thought that you guys are supposed to be team players. I wouldn't be on that team again for all the money in the world. How can we expect for the youth to leave there better human beings when staff shows all of this behavior in front of the youths????? Please stop turning the other way.
November 22, 2001
CR is a mom whose son had been at Pinellas JDC for about two months.
November 2001, CR's son, Steve, complained to his mother, during visitation, that he had not been issued clean pants in 2 weeks. Mom brought this to the attention of a supervisor standing nearby and the supervisor claimed it was a lie. The supervisor asked another youth about clean pants and that youth confirmed Steve's story. After visitation, as Steve was being escorted back to his mod, Steve was injured by a supervisor who slammed into him. Here is Steve's account as described by his mother in e-mails to me:
Thursday, November 22, 2001
I just wanted you to know that this evening I received a call from the detention center to let me know Steve had called the abuse hotline last night. I was told the Sheriff’s department and the child protective services were both there to investigate the complaint. I was told by detention that Steve was o.k. he was seen by the nurse but I wasn't really told what exactly happened. I next called the sheriff's department and spoke with the deputy who answered the call. She explained to me what happened. It seems like after I left visitation last night Steve and the supervisor were walking back to the mod. They were arguing the supervisor put his hand on Steve's shoulder. I guess Steve swung his elbow up and told him to get his F- hands off of him. At this point I guess the supervisor took Steve down. Somehow during all of this Steve got teeth marks on the inside of his lower lip. Steve alleged that the supervisor hit him but the supervisor said he didn't. The officer photographed the injuries (which I'm told were not serious). The officer didn't have enough cause to file charges against the staff member. Basically it was Steve's word against his as there were no witnesses. Now, I believe this all happened because Steve opened his mouth about the pant issue. Of course, I can't prove it and I don't want to make waves or make things harder for Steve. Just thought I'd give you a follow-up on the well-trained and educated people who are overseeing our children. I'm scared to think what is happening to my son in that place. --- CR
Saturday, November 24, 2001
I spoke with Steve last night. I finally called the detention center at 7:00 p.m. because Steve hadn't called yet. He told me it was Supervisor Parker who punched him and he also said someone kicked him in the left side of his head. He said every time he opens his mouth he hears a popping noise in his ear. He said there were plenty of witnesses. He was leaving the visitation room and as he stepped outside the room Parker slammed into him. All the kids that were in that room were witnesses. He said the deputy didn't even ask him if there were any witnesses. She made him tell his story twice then told him it didn't make sense. I want to know why a Doctor didn't check him out. I am so angry. I asked him if Parker has bothered him since the incident and he said he hasn't seen him. I don't want him anywhere near my son. Steve also said something to the effect that Parker stated "I've been waiting for my chance." I can't say those were the exact words. I've decided that if Curtis Krueger [writer for the St. Petersburg Times --- cc] is interested in listening to me I can give him a mother's horror with the system for the last year and a half. --- CR
This incident has been assigned Case #0107442 at the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Department of Juvenile Justice. Please call the OIG if you have ANY information. The number is 1-800-355-2280. You can remain anonymous. You may also click Contact Us if you have any information about this incident. Nothing ever changes unless we speak up. --- Cathy.
UPDATE: In February 2002, this investigation was completed by the OIG with the following determination: "UNSUBSTANTIATED that excessive force was used". However, several youth witnessed this incident, but none of them were interviewed for the investigation.
On February 28, 2002, justice4kids.org requested that this
case be reopened by the OIG. On March 7, 2002, this investigation was
reopened, per Lynne T. Winston, Esq., Acting Inspector General of the
Department of Juvenile Justice. The investigation has been extended to
interview all witnesses.
January 15, 2002
reference to the comments made by voice from the
inside (I AGREE THIS
January 15, 2002
I am an ex employee of the juvenile detention center in Pinellas County. Through my experiences there as a detention care worker for 5 years I have experienced racism, prejudice, and people who use others for the benefit of themselves at these children’s expense. Some of the Staff alone are worse than any child I seen come through there. I am a proud parent of 2 and I pray to god my child never goes there (they are safer on the street) (in my opinion). The best feeling I ever felt was the day I turned in my uniform.
November 4, 2002
This was received from justice4kids Contact Us
WHEN I WORKED IN THE SYSTEM THE KIDS WERE ALLOWED TO HAVE BOOKS IN THE ROOMS WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO DO TO OUR CHILDREN THIS ANGERS ME TO NO END.
YOU HAVE MY VOTE FULLY
THIS IS A VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO LEARN IN THE 2 YEARS WORKING IN THE PJDC I NEVER HAD A CHILD USE A BOOK FOR ANYTHING OTHER THEN TO PASS THE TIME AND LET THE BOOK TAKE THEM OUT OF THE HORRIBLE PLACE FOR A FEW MIN. I AM ALL FOR ALLOWING BOOKS IN THE ROOMS.
November 5, 2002
This was received from justice4kids Contact Us
i have some information for you after reading the voices
i had worked there in 90-91
i personally know of current employees that at the time i was working there that what the writter stated about the upper managmet breaking the rules as well as doing drugs it it a fact that if they did drug test the employees they would all be fired. as well the person i am aware of that is using cocaine still works there!!!
as a matter a fact he was the one that was in the court
room when my son
1) when i was there books in the rooms was something that
we encouraged. if i could guess the reason regardless of the reasons the give it
is 2) there were aprox 5 male staff that were known drug users and came to
work high on weed and bragged to other staff that he came to the interview
stoned so thay are used to his eyes being red. they didnt know him anyother way.
this was said in front of all the staff around at the time and i was extreamly humileating. from that day forward i had a bad tast in my mouth for him he happened to be the night sup. on duty when i witnessed the neglect be the hands of the staff member that was moved to the night shift due to jumping on and doing assult and battery on one of the youth there at the time.
also the stay was no longer then 30days for the kids. the system has gotten worse and i refuse to allow my son to get into their grips if there is any advise you can give to me so i can get my son sent on the california where he can get help please let me know..
ps. how would i be able to become more involved in what it is that you do???
i would like to give my full time and effort in helping
This was received from justice4kids Contact Us
November 9, 2002
A First Warning: