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BREAKING NEWS

GRAND JURY SAYS FOR-PROFIT JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITY IS DISGRACE TO FLORIDA
July 27, 2015




Photo of Highlands Youth Academy (HYA) in Avon Park. Image broadcast by WFTS-TV Florida.
(NATIONAL) -- G4S, described as a "controversial British outsourcing firm behind the disastrous security provision at the London Olympics," by the British newspaper The Guardian has been accused of running a “disgraceful” juvenile detention center in Florida.

The Highlands Youth Academy (HYA) in Avon Park, used as a jail for young men aged 16 to 19 that was the site of a riot involving more than 130 children two years ago, was described as “a disgrace to the state of Florida” by a grand jury report that called for it to be closed down, according to a new report by The Guardian.

The newspaper says the blistering 21-page report, unsealed last week, details a string of criticisms, including dilapidated buildings, unclean sanitary facilities, undertrained and poorly equipped staff and failure to report incidents of children escaping.

“What we have discovered at the Highlands Youth Academy simply cannot be what our Legislature and state leaders have intended for our juvenile justice system,” the jurors wrote. “While the citizens are essentially being ripped off – the juveniles are being even more poorly served. The Highlands Youth Academy should cease to exist.”

G4S, which is set to make a $4 million profit from the facility over five years and runs 28 other juvenile detention centers in the state, said the grand jury’s report contained “multiple factual errors and misstatements,” according to the report.

n 2012, G4S made international news after failing to provide enough security guards to the London Olympics. The British military had to deploy thousands of personnel to fill the gap.

The Florida grand jury investigation comes just two months after a British child services agency uncovered a series of incidents of gross misconduct by staff, some of whom were on drugs while on duty, at a G4S facility for children in Northampton, England.

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