Printed Courtesy of ‘Color of Change’
October 2, 2014
Reports reveal FL guards slapping and choking kids and fracturing their bones. One child held in a Youth Services International (YSI) for-profit prison described it as being “kept like rats in a trap, in a maze.” (1)
After 15,000 ColorOfChange members took action demanding an end to Florida’s exploitative private youth prisons, the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) canceled a $3,527,552 contract with YSI, citing chronic abuse of youth and banning the company from applying for any new contracts with Florida for the next 12 months. (2)
It’s a huge deal — but YSI has responded by shamefully filing an official challenge to overturn our progress. (3) In order to counter YSI’s influence peddling and pave the way for additional contract cancellations, we need a groundswell of public pressure to ensure Governor Scott and Secretary Daly take the necessary steps to end the state’s for-profit youth prisons.
Florida’s for-profit youth prisons are a living nightmare — every day corporations like YSI and G4S, lock up thousands of Black and brown youth in some of the most abusive conditions in the country. A Florida YSI prison had the highest sexual abuse rates of 36 reviewed Florida facilities, yet the company still manages nine youth prisons across FL. Now, we have a critical opportunity to continue weakening the power of Florida’s for-profit prisons, limit their ability to torture youth, and create the space for a more humane and fair youth justice system. Instead of individualized, community and family based alternatives to incarceration that are more effective at rehabilitation, Florida funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to shameful for-profit prisons.
Just last week, YSI shamefully filed an official challenge to Sec. Daly’s decision to cancel their contract for the Santa Rosa Abuse Treatment Center, blaming the State and the kids themselves for the abuse that led to the cancellation. (4) Our voices are making a difference and YSI is feeling the heat —but private prisons hold great political power and without increased public pressure the DJJ could be strong armed into scaling back contract cancellations. As we work towards ending for-profit youth prisons in Florida, it’s imperative that we demand an end to contracts for facilities with well-documented abuse of youth — and that means clearing a political pathway for Sec. Daly and Gov. Scott to do so. (5)
In the run up to Florida’s important election season, we must pressure Gov. Scott to show the necessary leadership to cancel additional private prison contracts and commit to an end to for-profit youth prisons.
Thanks and Peace,
Matt, Rashad, Arisha, Lyla, Jamar and the entire ColorOfChange.org team.
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1. “Prisoners of Profit,” Huffington Post, 10/22/2014
2. “Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) Cancels Major Private Prison Contract, After Public Pressure from National Civil Rights Organization,” ColorOfChange, 09/03/2014
3. “National Civil Rights Organization Condemns Shameful Private Prison company’s attempt to overturn Florida’s Decision to Cancel its Contract Due to Widespread Abuse of Children,” ColorOfChange, 09/26/2014
5. “Ex-employee at state juvenile detention center charged with sexual battery of a minor housed there,” WPTV, 08/29/2014