Another Youth Camp Coming Under Fire

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

A private company that runs a juvenile lockup in the woods of north Florida is under investigation for two incidents where teenagers were injured by staff.

Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth says they’re checking out the Apalachicola Forest Youth Camp in Franklin County north of East Point.

It's a facility for juvenile delinquents who suffer from retardation or mental illness.

Bob Butterworth is the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families and said, “We had an incident that occurred of February 28 where some youth was injured, but not seriously, that concerned us. That particular person who was involved ended up being fired by the private company. Then, just a couple days ago on March the 8 I believe it was, we received another complaint of a youth that had a broken arm.”

The Youth Camp is run by a private contractor and Doctor Andrew Aqwunobi with the Agency for Heath Care Administration says the staffers involved in both incidents are no longer at the facility.

“I’d like to reiterate: the children are safe today and that is a success. In fact, even the staff members who were involved in the second incident that is still under investigation have been placed on administrative leave pending conclusion of the investigation and therefore are not in contact with the children. So the children are safe.”

Agwunobi says the private contractor that runs that camp, Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, could lose their contract, but Twin Oaks spokesman Chris Maya says they were the ones who reported the problem in the first place.

“The institution called DCF. The institution removed the employee, and the institution the following morning showed the videotapes to DCF investigators, so if the institution, in fact, is the one reporting the abuse, I’m not sure how that constitutes institutional abuse.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a videotape of one of the incidents and officials are promising it will be made public as soon as possible.

8195 Front Beach Road Panama City Beach, FL 32407 Station: 850-234-7777 News: 850-230-5221 Fax: 850-233-6647
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