MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Center, made infamous 10 years ago when guards and nurses allowed a teenage boy to suffer a painful and preventable death from appendicitis, is facing a new scandal after another 17 year old died because he failed to receive the proper medical attention after being beaten by as many as twenty kids.
The August 31st death of Elord Revolte is being investigated by both the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Inspector General for the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice, which operates the facility.
Following Elord’s death, other disturbing allegations came to light about the center, which if true would suggest a violent and sadistic world where guards pay kids with snacks and treats to dole out beatings to others kids.
“Usually they will bribe us with honey buns, you know Skittles, or something,” said one kid who spent months inside the center. “[The guard would] be like, ‘Okay look bro, this kid disrespected me. I don’t like him. I’ll give you a honey bun if you do it.’”
CBS4 News interviewed two kids who, between them, spent nearly a year in the detention center. They said it was common for such bribes to be paid out.
Marie Osborne, head of the juvenile division for the Miami Dade Public Defender’s Office, said her attorneys have documented as many as 15 cases where guards and supervisors took part in the scheme.
“Elord’s death prompted people to come forward and talk to me about this phenomenon called ‘honey bunning,’” she said. “I think in some cases it’s a little bit of a sick thing – almost like cockfighting – like let’s just have the kids duke it out because we’re bored too. But I think primarily it’s used as a means of control.”
Elord’s death is still under investigation and it’s not known if his attackers were offered any treats.
Neither of the kids CBS4 News interviewed were in the detention center at the time of Elord’s death. But they weren’t surprised a kid died, given the amount of fighting and beatings that took place when they were there.
One of the kids said a supervisor offered him a treat to beat a kid, but he declined.
“I’m not going to fight over a honey bun,” the kid said. “I’ll fight when it comes down to my life in danger or I feel that I’m not safe. I’m just not going to fight over a treat.”
Nevertheless, he noted, there are plenty of kids who would take play along.
One of those kids outlined the hierarchy of snacks.
“I’m talking about under the table snacks,” he said. “It’s honey buns, then it’s pretty much chocolate. And [then] there’s fast food. Fast food is where everybody will go crazy.”
The reason those items are so valuable is that the kids don’t have access to the vending machines, which are located in the guard’s break room.
“One time they told me a Whopper Junior,” he said, meaning a supervisor offered him the burger to beat up another kid.
“Yeah, and I got it,” he added with a laugh.
The night after he and his roommate assaulted the targeted child, a guard came by his room after lockdown, opened his locked door and tossed him the Whopper Junior.
Both teens said the center breeds violence.
“A lot of kids get frustrated in there,” said the first boy. “And all that anger they have inside they just let out on anyone that looks at them the wrong way.”
The second kid added, “That’s how jail raised me. Jail pretty much matures you. But it matures you in a violent way.”
A DJJ spokeswoman called the treats-for-beatings allegations “appalling” and said the agency was taking the matter “very seriously.”
“If it is determined to be true we will hold the wrongdoers fully accountable,” said Heather DiGiacomo, the DJJ spokeswoman.
The department’s Inspector General has launched an investigation. Meanwhile a separate IG and State Attorney probe continues to examine Elord’s death any why he was allowed to die. Five employees have already been fired.