- Posted August 20, 2013 by
Avon Park, Florida
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Riot at Avon Park Youth Academy May Be Due to Posse Mentality
I find that there is a dilemma concerning such a place as a youth academy in the correctional system. We must understand the psyche of our youth to determine the proper treatment and punishment for their juvenile offenses. Because one shoe does not fit all. Just because you needs job training and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, does not mean such a place is suitable for a person of their mindset.
Often with our youth, because they have knowledge of their physical disadvantages against older adults in the world of crime on the streets and their survival elsewhere, they have a mentality of one for all and all for one. But there are leaders and followers within these posses. And it is up to the administrative authorities to know one from the other, to avoid things like this riot from happening.
Sure in a therapeutic environment, there should be order and disciplinary actions to enforce order. But at places like youth academies, we also have to take into consideration that even our most hardened and toughest "Gits," depend on a their friends or posse for their survival on and off the streets. So the weak must also depend on someone taking their backs in conflicts and often it results in extortion for money, favors and moral support.
Sometimes the good gets caught up in the web with the bad, especially when it comes to our youth. Why? Because their survival and their lives, may depend on a certain code of discipline and camaraderie to coexist. To not protect their friend or participate in disorder could mean a death warrant against them. So out of fear many often do stupid things so we may perceive them as, when in reality it was for their survival not just while incarcerated but upon release as well. Many of these kids make bonds that will last much longer than their time of incarceration. This must be understood and taken into consideration upon disciplinary actions.
So the bottom line is what are the screening processes that allows acceptance in such a program designed to help low level offenders rehabilitate into upright citizens? But even more important is the progress necessary to remain in such an environment. And most importantly to carryout these rehabilitation services, we must take into consideration the security necessary to run such a facility with some type of administrative authority and code of discipline.
According to the article I read about this riot, there are no surveillance cameras on this compound. And they knew gambling took place there, probably on a regular basis. First of all, how can you run a correctional facility filled with juvenile delinquents and have no surveillance cameras to monitor their activities? Things like rapes, bullying, extortion and other offenses probably went on all the time, without authority having any proof of such offenses. I guess they expected a kid to be a snitch and tell on the hardened juvenile delinquent, who had half the campus behind him? Get real! Even the Veterans Affairs Medical Center has surveillance cameras. What was you thinking? Give them freedom? This was plain stupid!
Personally, I believe that such a place should also have undercover agents admitted on occasion for internal surveillance operations and because such a place should have a high turnover rate due to progresses necessary to remain there, it would go on unnoticed by the staff as well as the inmates. But the awareness of the possibility of these operations would prevent people from becoming overconfident to create mayhem.
It is obvious that a hand full of thugs ran the Avon Park Youth Academy. And the majority of followers participated in this riot out of juvenile camaraderie, for many reasons. But the foundation to this was their personal survival, because they did not feel safe and therefore felt they had nothing to lose. This attitude is not acceptable in a therapeutic community.
For this reason test grades should be taken into consideration, group participation and overall attitudes should be taken into consideration, because such a place must produce results and not simply be a place to house juvenile delinquents . I still believe it was the administrations fault that this happened, because they should have saw it coming and prevented this before it came to this all out riot.
We can belittle these kids with headlines like Cup O' Noodles, but this is not a small problem isolated to small wage turned riot. It is about the posse mentality these kids engage in and how one bad apple has the power to create all out disorder and confusion. And if it happened in prison it can happen on the streets, so think about the corrective action taken as a result of this riot.
Frank Paul Jones
President and Chairman of the NCNCHINC