Republican Lawmaker Calls for Closure of Juvenile Boot Camps

A Republican lawmaker wants the state to close its military-style boot camps for juvenile delinquents after a boy died last week hours after entering the one in Panama City.

State Rep. Gustavo “Gus” Barreiro is the chairman of the House Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee. He says the camps are unsuccessful and should be shut down.

The state Department of Juvenile Justice's records show that 62 percent of graduates from the several camps around the state are re-arrested after release, a rate experts call very high. The camps are run by county sheriff's office under contract from the state.

The DJJ is reviewing all sheriffs’ office policies for the camps in light of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson's death last week.

He was doing exercises as part of the intake process at a Panama City camp when authorities say he had to be restrained because he wasn't cooperating. He soon complained of breathing difficulties and then collapsed. He died early the next morning after being transferred to a Pensacola hospital.

The family's attorney says the boy was abused. A Bay County sheriff's spokeswoman denies that and says the children are not hit or knocked over.

The family has filed an intent to sue.