TALLAHASSEE -- An executive with a private company that runs a juvenile detention center apologized Thursday to state legislators for detaining juveniles past their release date so the company could earn extra money.
``It will never happen again,'' said Michael Garretson, executive vice president of Correctional Services Corp., a Sarasota-based company that operates the juvenile center in Pahokee, in Palm Beach County.
A report done in October for the state Department of Juvenile Justice uncovered a memo written by a Correctional Services official ordering that
10 juveniles be kept an additional five days beyond their release date.
``It was a totally inappropriate activity on her part,'' said Garretson.
Rex Uberman, a top Juvenile Justice official, said he believed the company delayed the release of the 10 juveniles at the Pahokee Youth Development Center to make more money.
The state pays Correctional Services $68 a day to house and educate the juveniles, so keeping the 10 juveniles the extra five days cost taxpayers about $3,400.
Rep. Alex Villalobos, R-West Dade, who chairs the committee that Garretson appeared before, said he believes this is not the first instance that a private company has kept juveniles beyond their release date.
Villalobos noted that the Correctional Services official wanted the 10
juveniles to stay the additional time because that was when the state would make its twice-yearly head count to determine how much the company would be paid.
Villalobos recommended that the state no longer advise the company when it will do the head count or make the reimbursement calculation based on the
daily average head count of juveniles.
Marie Osborne, who heads the juvenile section of the Miami-Dade County's public defender office, said Miami-Dade youths used to be sent to the Pahokee facility until her office filed suit arguing that the facility was built to house youths who commit murders. The youths sent there have committed less serious crimes and need less supervision, she said.
Pahokee has been at the center of a two-year court fight between Miami-Dade juvenile judges and state officials. Judges removed several Miami boys from the reform school after the boys testified to prison-like
conditions including shackling, extended solitary confinement, abusive language from staff members and
little mental health treatment.
The center was originally built as a maximum security prison for adults -- complete with razor wire and bare-bones cells -- but has been used by the juvenile justice
department to house boys who are considered a moderate risk to society.
I do beleive that CCA does manage some juvenille facilities. I can not recall any names off hand but have seen the there are operational policies regarding juvenille offenders. You are right gov't facilities can not hold a candle to CCA operation. My opinions from a career corrections professional who has worked in state systems.