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Florida Ends Relationship With Juvenile Justice Contractor After Years Of Abuse Allegations

Richard Graulich / Palm Beach Post
The Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility is one of the seven Florida facilities currently managed by Youth Services International, Inc.

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is ending its relationship with one of the state’s largest operators of juvenile detention facilities. Youth Services International Inc. currently operates seven juvenile detention centers in contracts with the state, but its work has been marked by  a long history of legal battles and allegations of child abuse.

When Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana made unannounced visits to children at a detention facility in West Palm Beach last year, she was appalled by what she found. “They didn’t have adequate clothing or shoes, their toilets didn’t work, their sinks didn’t work, they actually had to carry desks from room to room because they didn’t have enough desks, and there were actually instances where there were rewards for kids who beat up other kids.”


              Vana’s findings echoed complaints against Youth Services International going back to the 1990s. Some of those complaints ended with settlements or contracts that ended years before they were supposed to. Yet their facilities earned passing grades from state inspectors as the company continued to win multi-million dollar contracts year after year. “It took a lot to get to the point that they were going to be gone out of Florida,” Vana says, but she hopes renewed public scrutiny will lead to better oversight from here on out.

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