He was just fourteen years old – housed at a juvenile detention facility for injuring another child with a soda can during an altercation. He was due to be released in just a few short weeks – and looked forward to meeting the new puppy his grandmother had waiting for him. Tragically, however, the child never made it home and was found dead in his cell following three consecutive days complaining of agonizing, debilitating pain.
While housed at the Brevard County Juvenile Detention Center, the child-victim contracted bacterial meningitis – a life-threatening, but treatable, condition causing swelling in the brain and its protective membranes. Despite losing control of his musculoskeletal system, bowels, and general faculties, the staff and medical professionals gave him a Tylenol and sent him medical lock-up where he slowly succumbed to the illness and eventually died alone in his cell.
And he’s not the first. Since 2003, an alarming number of detained youth have died from otherwise treatable illnesses, including appendicitis and suffocation due to excessive mandatory exercise.
Now, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has implemented stricter controls and “cleaned house” of juvenile detention center staff members deemed too negligent and incompetent to work with and oversee children in their facilities – encouraging staffers to treat each child “as if he were your own.”
State Strives for Equal Access to Medical Care
At the heart of the issue occurring in Florida’s detention facilities is the foundational concept that children enduring the hardships of juvenile lockup should still have access to the same level of medical care as any other child in the state of Florida.
Too often, detention centers are failing children on this basic level, assuming the resident is “faking it” or exaggerating the symptoms in order to gain special treatment. However, as was the case in the several recent fatalities while in state custody, it is often not possible to make this determination from a mere conversation or once-over of a resident – and staff should be treating each complaint as a valid and legitimate medical issue.
A Sarasota juvenile attorney understands the constitutional and foundational rights afforded to all inmates in the state Florida – including both adults and children. Inmates have a right to competent and responsive medical care, including access to necessary prescription medications and monitoring of chronic medical conditions.
In the event a child housed in a state-run facility is not receiving this basic care, a juvenile attorney can help make an immediate plea to the judge assigned to the case, which could hopefully prevent another tragedy like that described above. A child denied basic medical care is essentially suffering repeated abuse at the hands of the government, and this epidemic simply cannot continue.
Contact a Reputable Sarasota Attorney Right Away
If your child or loved one is facing a difficult situation and you would like to discuss your rights under Florida and federal laws, please contact the Fowler Law Group today. You can reach our Sarasota office by calling (941) 900-3100.