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Old 10-04-2004, 09:09 AM
Phil in Paris Phil in Paris is offline
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Default Article: State closes only boot camp in Florida for girls

Sunday October 03, 2004
BARTOW, Fla. (AP) The state has closed Florida's only boot camp for girls, after local officials said they balked at requirements to add yoga, dance classes and video games.

Sheriff Lawrence Crow Jr. said he was distressed by some of the requirements for the camp set by the state Department of Juvenile Justice without providing enough money to pay for them. The state spent $3.1 million this year for the Polk County boot camp.

Crow said he was told to add activities such as soccer, whiffle ball, basketball, volleyball, dance, yoga and aerobics. Increased privileges were to include movies, DVDs and video games.

``The boot camp for girls was tough love,'' Crow said. ``But, apparently, tough love is out.''

``It's not summer camp,'' Chief Circuit Judge Ron Herring agreed. ``It's supposed to be boot camp.''

Now, the girls' bay is unoccupied, awaiting 20 delinquent boys. The girls in the boot camp have been sent to other programs across the state.

Tom Denham, the department's communications director, disputed Crow's account of why the girls' boot camp was closed. He said the girls' boot camp showed an unacceptable recidivism rate for 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available, and its occupancy rate was too low.

``The DJJ is responsible for sending us the kids,'' sheriff's spokesman Scott Wilder said. ``So if there weren't enough girls in the boot camp, whose fault is it?''

Sheriff's supervisors said they feared the new requirements and the subsequent purging of the girls' boot camp was a reaction to problems at the Florida Institute for Girls, a prison for maximum risk and mentally ill girls in Palm Beach.

Girls there were molested by men who worked for a private company that ran the facility for the state.

Sheriff's officials point out that boot camp workers and supervisors are trained sheriff's employees, not private company workers.

``The state has tried to kill an apple with a shotgun,'' Crow said.

Information from: The Ledger, http://www.theledger.com

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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