Congressional reps ask state to close local juvenile lockup until FDLE wraps up investigation

 

Shelley Vana, paying a second visit to the juvenile center.

Shelley Vana, paying a second visit to the juvenile center.

Four South Florida congressional representatives are asking the state to shutter Palm Beach County’s troubled juvenile detention center until an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement agency is complete.

In an Aug. 7 letter to Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christina Daly, U.S. Representatives Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch and Patrick Murphy wrote that, “We are disturbed by recent reports that outline a troubling trend of violent altercations” at the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Nor were they happy with reports of substandard living conditions and inadequate meals reported by Palm Beach County Mayor Shelley Vana, who has for months criticized management of the state facility by a private company, Youth Services International.

Daly earlier this year asked FDLE to investigate the lockup, which houses more than 100 teenage boys in serious trouble with the law.

But that’s not enough, the representatives stated: Given a history of mismanagement by YSI, which last year lost a state contract to run a state substance abuse treatment center for juveniles in Santa Rosa County, and continued reports of trouble at the local facility, the four congressional reps asked DJJ “to suspend the operation of the facility pending the outcome” of the FDLE inquiry – and to investigate whether YSI is competent to run it.

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