A group of Florida public defenders is asking a state court to remove and stop sending troubled juveniles to a privately run detention facility they claim is rife with abuses. A court filing disclosed Wednesday also accuses Florida juvenile-justice officials of lax oversight and asks the court to appoint an independent monitor to investigate the Thompson Academy, a 154-bed “moderate risk” residential center in Florida’s Broward County.
Gordon Weekes, Broward County chief assistant public defender, said he has long been concerned about conditions inside the Thompson Academy in Pembroke Pines in Florida. To protect his young clients’ confidentiality, Weekes filed the public defenders’ motion in early June directly with a judge in Florida’s 17th Judicial Circuit. Weekes disclosed it Wednesday after the motion was filed with the court clerk and copies were given to a Florida juvenile prosecutor, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and Youth Services International (YSI), the company that runs Thompson Academy.
Broward’s public defenders represent 56 children from that county who’ve been sent to Thompson Academy for housing and treatment, Weekes said.
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