Teens Tied Down and Shot Up With Drugs at Pembroke Pines Facility

Teens Tied Down and Shot Up With Drugs at Pembroke Pines Facility

Cold fluorescent light bounces off the slick white floors of the hallway. Doors slam; girls scream in the distance. A half dozen police officers march across the tile. Staffers wrapped in blue hospital scrubs trot behind. Outside, 20 cop cruisers and two ambulances paint the parking lot with their reds and blues, responding to a dispatch call of a possible riot.

Think One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets The Hunger Games.

Fourteen-year-old Kate paces down the hall of the facility for mentally ill teenagers, seemingly glassed away from the chaos. Head down, steps slow as a sleepwalker's. She's just under five feet, baby fat rounding a frame that's covered in a pink hoodie and khaki pants.

As a security video clearly shows, a crewcut police officer darts to Kate's side. A gloved hand reaches for her left arm. Like a sprung trap, she twists around, her right hand crashing two quick blows against the officer's shoulder. His gloved right fist pulls back, then slams into her face. As Kate crumples, the officer clamps down on the back of her head, taking her to the floor. More cops pile in. With Kate pinned beneath his weight, the officer winds up and fires another punch.

"Why are you hitting her!?" someone screams.

Before April 28, 2013, was over, Kate would be pepper-sprayed and hauled off in handcuffs. Later, the teenaged orphan would be charged with battery of a law enforcement officer, a felony.

Ultimately, her arrest would bring attention to a little-known, publicly funded facility — the Center for Adolescent Treatment Services (CATS), a 56-bed program in Pembroke Pines that's run by a Hialeah-based nonprofit group called Citrus Health Network. Former residents describe CATS as a gulag-like holding pen for damaged, low-income kids. Inside, children compete to earn "points" while supervised by a low-educated and reportedly abusive staff — think One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets The Hunger Games. Worse, residents claim they were regularly tied face-down to beds with four-point restraints and shot up with a mysterious chemical sedative they took to calling "booty juice."

New Times examined complaints about the facility that were filed with multiple agencies. Official investigations found that many complaints were fully or partially substantiated. But the paper trail leads only to a bureaucratic dumpster fire, where regulations are loosely enforced and responsibility ping-pongs from agency to agency. Meanwhile, the Citrus Health Network continues to hoover up millions of taxpayer dollars while getting slapped with a few largely toothless "recommendations."

Perhaps the August death of a 14-year-old Citrus resident might finally make a difference.


Gordon Weekes could barely believe what he was hearing. The tall, dreadlocked attorney sat inside a dingy conference room at CATS with Jeff Hittleman, another lawyer from his office. Across sat their new client. Before long, Kate (whose name has been changed because she is a juvenile) unloaded.

For 16 years, Weekes had been a public defender in Broward County specializing in juvenile justice, but he had never heard of the Citrus Health Network or its CATS program before Kate's case landed on his desk.

"We see in the course of our work different scenarios, and some of them are pretty shocking," Weekes recalls. "This was off the scales."

Kate's backstory alone was crammed with more hard knocks than most people see in a lifetime. When she was 9, her mother was killed in a car accident. At 10, her father died of an aneurysm. The cousins she was placed with were emotionally abusive. Documents state that "her dependency child abuse record... contained 24 prior intake reports." Kate, now a ward of the state, pinballed between group homes and teen programs and was arrested three times before a judge ordered her to CATS.

Kate had been at CATS only a few weeks when, according to an investigation done months later by the South Florida Behavioral Health Network (SFBHN), a group of eight girls began fighting after a kickball game. An employee called police to report a riot in progress. When 20 police cars screeched up to the center, the girls, "who had been fighting previously, began to instigate, use disrespectful, foul language, and refused orders made by police."

The report states that Kate "was interviewed and revealed that she had poured soap on the floor with the intention of making the officers slip. She stated that the officers were telling the patients to 'calm down' and she told them to 'leave us alone.' " She paced the hallway to calm herself — a coping skill she'd learned in therapy.

After the police officer assaulted her, "the pepper spray caused an asthma attack, so the nurse brought her an asthma pump. Once placed into the police car, she reported kicking the window in an attempt to break it. As a result, she was pepper sprayed again. She reported an ambulance came and she was provided with saline spray for the burning of her eyes. She was then transported to the Juvenile Assessment Center where she stated she did not want to live. She was then Baker Acted and transported by police to a Baker Act receiving facility. A short time later, she appeared in front of her judge who ordered her back into the Citrus CATS" program.

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19 comments
tmcsea1
tmcsea1

This article brought me to tears and broke my heart. Why has this place not been shut down? Have we forgotten that it takes a community to raise a child? How sad when youth have no parents and the adults responsible for their care let them down. And poor Octavian, bless his soul. This is wrong and our lawmakers must take the correct stand and shut places like this down. How can we as a community help?

KOOLTOZE
KOOLTOZE

Residential treatment facilities for juveniles, supported or run or overseen by the state, should have a program written by professionals which minimizes the use of restraint(s) and psycho-tropic drugs. Before the state licenses a facility, it should set the highest standards for staff training and behavior. I was a treatment specialist at the state run 'reform school' in Michigan for 26 years, so I have first hand knowledge of what the front line staff face day to day. This isn't the type of job that just any high school grad can handle. It takes an individual with a clear understanding of how juveniles get to the point of needing this extraordinary level of care. It requires remarkable patience and dedication. It takes at least a year of on the job training by a qualified lead worker to learn most techniques for dealing with these kids. They have learned how to manipulate adults by acting out To them, it's a mind game of how to get what they want, whether it's in their best interests or not. Most of these kids appear to act spontaneously, but they actually follow easily observed patterns. If a kid knows he/she can make an adult angry or frustrated, they can predict the outcome. They wear down weaker adults, lie about stronger 'limit setters'. Where I worked, we had staff teams who worked with two groups of ten youth every day. The team, made up of all front line staff, the nurses, the doctor, a psychiatrist, the teachers, group leaders and front line supervisors met each week to set treatment plans and develop strategies to deal with each individual kid. So, it was a 'mind game' for us , too, but always with the intention of limiting physical confrontations, isolation, restraint and getting the kids OFF of drugs. We found that most kids could function at a high level without being 'medicated'. We had 'meetings' at any time, interrupting any activity, with youth who were acting out, along with their entire group. We didn't allow bullying, intimidation or fighting. Each group was responsible for their other group members. They all were given a complete understanding of what was expected of them, and they understood there were consequences for all behavior, good or bad. We worked hard at helping them improve their self image and learning to be considerate to themselves and others. It is true, you cannot force anyone to change, but you can help anyone find a reason to change themselves if it's in their own self interests.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.........................................as for the attorneys THEY are most likely in it for the M O N E Y as they no doubt smell a settlement whereas the attorneys may get MORE in fees and expenses than the patient whose life will not change for the better certainly not over the long term

cha-ching !

as long as there is PROFIT for some,  nothing will change = period

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

..............otherwise THROW-AWAY kids are kids whose parents deliberately have them to qualify for government assistance and taxpayer funded support like food stamps and free government cheese and obamaphones and section 8 housing reduced rent programs and even disability if the kid himself qualifies

the kids are abandonded or disgarded by the parents who have no intention of raising the kid who is THROWN-AWAY since the parents are typically abusing drugs and cannot work and are unemployable - so the free ride is to feed an addiction not a kid

however these THROW-AWAYs are typically NOT wards of the state or in guardianships because the goverment support would GO elsewhere instead of the parents - which is why you see drugged out mothers pleading the courts for custody despite such abuse and hiding that mothers real financial intentions and why there are typically MULITPLE siblings from different fathers to MAXIMIZE the yield in ripping off and scamming the public programs of taxpayer funds

the kids in this article of course may be THROW-AWAYs but not necessarily - dealing with mental deficiencies and incapacity for the poor alone does not indicate the parental participation which is the main factor in the definition of the label THROW-AWAY kid

LizS
LizS

My nephew is bipolar and has been in almost every psych hospital in both broward and dade county. Citrus in Hialeah has been the worst facility he's been to.

funchey1
funchey1 moderator editor

@frankd4  Did you read the story? Both of Kate's parents died. The main boy in the story, Octavious, has two middle-class working parents. 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@fratdawgg23 @frankd4  


getting back to basics  THROW-AWAY KIDS  are kids whose parents have them to qualify the parents for government funds and support programs such as disability and welfare and food stamps and subsidized housing simply to perpetuate a DRUG USE and ABUSE lifestyle and otherwise couldn't care for kids


they TYPICALLY ARE NOT placed under guardianship since then the benefits would follow the kid and be taken from the parent(s)


this is why we see DRUG FUELED parent(s) pleading with courts for the possession of their "babies" - for the government benefits - when in reality they simply want to kids to continue their DRUG USE

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@fratdawgg23 @frankd4  


well that response tells me what level of maturity and mentality i'm dealing with here - it's what i had suspected anyway

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@funchey1 @frankd4  


did you read MY POST ?


..............."however these THROW-AWAYs are typically NOT wards of the state or in guardianships because the goverment support would GO elsewhere instead of the parents - which is why you see drugged out mothers pleading the courts for custody despite such abuse and hiding that mothers real financial intentions and why there are typically MULITPLE siblings from different fathers to MAXIMIZE the yield in ripping off and scamming the public programs of taxpayer funds"


i do mention kids under a guardianship are by my definition NOT throw-aways (as the title of the article infers) simply because the financial benefits would be re-directed away from parents - THROW-AWAYs are kids whose parents have them to qualify those parents for government financial support (they don't want CHILDREN so much as wanting the financial benefits of free government cheese and obamaphones and subsidized government housing programs and possible disability of the kid paying them and welfare checks)


KATEs parent death was no doubt DRUG ABUSE related and in any event the parents had no necessary support, food clothing shelter financial educational familial, available for KATE - so KATE may be a THROW-AWAY as well


OCTAVIOUSs parents or at least his mother was unable to handle him and as lovingly as she may have intended however could not afford the professional help really needed (i know somewhat about this having a young cousin who finances alone cost a tremendous amount of money to my aunt and uncle who can afford it being into the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years now)

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@KOOLTOZE @frankd4 @274gemini @fratdawgg23  


he is an outlier - which is like hitting the lottery or getting hit by lightening - if it were so easy it wouldn't COST so much in resources to house and feed and maintain these programs 


personally i would rather we didn't have people having kids they themselves cannot raise - there are many studies indicating early bonding development is crucial for success


besides,  if in any program only ONE KID goes and kills some innocent victim, that's too much risk for my definition of defending and sustaining a civilized society - and i would bet that many of your charges went off and killed someone or raped someone


when a crack-mother gives birth to a mentally defective kid the state can only be expected to do so much with the resources it has and the problem is how do you hold her responsible for her own actions ? and certainly how do you hold the kid responsible for his/her actions ?


citing ONE,  or even a few that make it,  does not absolve the parents,  or the kids that go on and commit crimes,  sometimes heinous crimes,  against INNOCENT victims of our society, and the sooner we advance this, the better for all of us





KOOLTOZE
KOOLTOZE

@frankd4 @274gemini@fratdawgg23                                Thank God, you're not in a position to make any decisions regarding kids with these kinds of issues. It's true, most of them come from families that lack parenting skills, but that isn't the kid's fault. I worked as a counselor at a large state-run institution for 30 years, where we ran a therapeutic program, teaching kids how to accept responsibility for their actions, the benefits of helping others and self sufficiency skills. We NEVER drugged them, they were only restrained if they were an immediate threat to harm themselves or others and abuse and/or neglect by staff was not tolerated. It was a long process for some of our kids, to learn to respect themselves and others, and some (psychopaths) never could, but our success rate was near 80%, meaning that after they left our program, they had no police/court contacts for a year. I remember one kid who's mother was a crack-whore. When he told her he was hungry, she told him to go steal food from the corner store because she wasn't going to feed him. Can you blame him for becoming a thief and a drug dealer? After 20 months in our program, he left, lived in a state financed halfway house, went to college, got a sports scholarship to a state university, graduated with 2 degrees and played professional football for 4 years before an injury ended that career. He is now married, has three of his own kids and teaches high school math and coaches football. Is he a "throw away"? Only in your small, weak mind.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@274gemini @frankd4 @fratdawgg23  


...............the point you are missing is these "kids" are INcapable of participating in civilized society


these "kids" are throw-away "kids" = period = they lack the mental ability to even sit still in a chair 


otherwise why don't YOU take a bunch of these "kids" to YOUR home and you can ALL pray together - i would give you no more than ten hours until you would come to the same conclusion i have


274gemini
274gemini

@frankd4 @fratdawgg23

Is this what your childhood was like, Frank? Are you inadvertently spewing anger toward your own parents for treating you this way...like a throw away kid? You sound very angry and disturbed. If what I suspect is true, I am truly sorry for the way things happened to you. No child deserves this treatment, not even you. When I pray to God tonight to bring peace, love, security and safety to all the children who ever had to endure this facility I will also pray for you. I will pray for God to bring you peace and to comfort you and to help you to reconcile the demons that you fight everyday, the demons that have hurt you so bad and made you so bitter and angry.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@fratdawgg23 @frankd4 @funchey1  


well maybe it's because i see these kids and the places they come from AND NO ONE wants them - not you either


i also have a cousin in a similar situation and if it were not for his parents support including hundreds of thousands of dollars to date (and counting) he would also be lost to civilized society


i know it's not the kids who picked this life BUT it is what it is


professionals have over years and through tons of money cannot come up with a socially acceptable answer - AND NEITHER can you or I - maybe i'm simply more "realisitic"


BTW I may also be familiar with the facility IF it was previously an alcohol treatment facility and some years before that a private hunting lodge of a wealthy sportsman


otherwise i have NO political affiliations with anyone = period



fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

@frankd4 @funchey1-frankd4 - You are a couple of quarts low on empathy, mate. A trait shared with Gov. Scott and sociopaths.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@funchey1 @frankd4  


a nurse and a secretary aren't going to pay for mental health issues = period


my own uncle and aunt have sufficient resources for my cousin who followed into OCTAVIOUSs pattern early on and between legal costs, restitutions for damaged property, settlements, mental health expenses including hospitals, medications and therapies,  the total is well into the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars (and counting)


a nurse and secretary are NOT going to stay middle-class with those types of typical expenses and may very well find themselves on welfare and government subsidy and assistance


i have no way of knowing about drug use or abuse of either parent there either

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

@funchey1 @frankd4  


thanks, it just seems KATEs parents dying so young,  and NOT having a network of able relatives as a safety-net of people,  brother or sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles,  NO ONE stepping in ?  there MUST BE something very wrong - who DOESN'T want to help and assist a young little TEN-YEAR OLD kid under those circumstances - right ?


i still don't see if the parents were drug users / abusers for example a car accident would have yielded a trust fund for Kate assuming it wasn't the MOTHERs fault - right ? and did drug abuse contribute to the FATHERs aneurysm and WHY didn't the FATHER provide a surrogate for his daughter in his condition with the MOTHER already dead ? those parents were either incredibly UNluck or else incredibly HIGH

funchey1
funchey1 moderator editor

@frankd4 @funchey1  It's impossible to read your comments, Frank. There's no punctuation!  :)    But the story says how Kate's parents died -- "When she was 9, her mother was killed in a car accident. At 10, her father died of an aneurysm." -- and Octavious's parents were middle class -- a nurse and  a secretary --  not welfare kings/queens. 

 
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