“The Department of Juvenile Justice calls its philosophy ‘tough love.’
“But a Miami Herald I-Team analysis of 10 years of seldom-seen records reveals an emphasis on the ‘tough.’
“Documents, interviews and surveillance videos show a disturbing pattern of beatings doled out or ordered by underpaid officers, hundreds of them prison system rejects. Youthful enforcers are rewarded with sweet pastries from the employee vending machines, a phenomenon known as ‘honey-bunning.’ The Herald found fights staged for entertainment, wagering and to exert control, sex between staff and youthful detainees and a culture of see-nothing/say-nothing denial.
“Herald journalists also examined 12 questionable deaths of detained youths since 2000.
“In the end, untold numbers of already troubled youths have been further traumatized.
“With a one-year recidivism rate of 45 percent, it is a justice system that is supposed to reform juvenile delinquents, but too often turns them into hardened felons.”