Huge Riot Breaks Out at Florida Youth Center

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
08/19/2013 -ATIN – 
A massive riot broke out over the weekend at Avon Youth Academy in Central Florida, 18 out 20 structures on the property were destroyed and it took over 150 officers to regain control of the approximately 200-bed state owned, privately operated mental health and addiction treatment drug rehab alcohol rehab center. Many hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage was done and, incredibly, there were no security cameras anywhere on the facility to record the mayhem. That fact alone exposes the absolute disgrace that is the state of Florida’s youth addiction treatment and mental health juvenile justice system.

G4S Private Operators

As the administration of our state penal systems, especially the part that runs state addictions and mental health youth facilities – and Avon was essentially a state owned mental health and treatment center for youths 16-18 – has passed into private hands it should come as no surprise that this facility is run by a big conglomerate. Administering Avon is the Youth Services division of a huge international corporate called G4S, which seems to have virtually taken over the administration of Florida’s state youth care with about 13 other facilities in Florida similar to Avon Youth Academy under its control and supervision. G4S has operations in hundredds of countries involved in providing security and facilities services to virtually every type of business and government institution. It’s U.S. youth care operations seem to be particularly concentrated in Florida, with 13 of the 16 state centers it operates located in Florida, with two in Tennessee and one in Arkansas. All three of these states were on the leading cusp of state youth treatment and penal privatization beginning around 20 years ago, a trend that has petered out and is indeed now reversing. Jim Hill, president of G4S Youth Services division did not make himself available for comment. Listed on the London Stock Exchange, 

G4S has 625,000 employees in 125 countries worldwide, with its U.S. Youth Services headquarted in Jupiter, FL.

26-Acre Campus

With the building housing the facility’s records set ablaze, seven youths were taken to the hospital, another 64 youth were sent to Polk County Jail and potentially serious felony charges may leveled at some of the youths. Only 21 G4S staffers were on shift at Avon Youth Academy, overseeing 144 high risk youths when the riot broke out, which involved a petty dispute when youths who lost a basketball game refused to pay a bet that the loser would pay the winner of the game some Ramen Noodles. Youths spend an average of 270 days at Avon Academy, getting addiction treatment and mental health services while attending school.

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