Kate laid out her version of the incident to her lawyers, who were even more transfixed when the conversation detoured to daily life in the program. Residents were tied down and injected for minor infractions, Kate explained.

Residents were tied face-down with four-point restraints and shot up with a mysterious chemical sedative they took to calling "booty juice."

Kate would later tell investigators from the Broward Sheriff's Office that she had been physically restrained 14 times, "and in each instance she was administered medicine (chemical restraint) in which she became 'loopy.' " She "felt medical personnel at Citrus never checked her vital signs when these incidents occurred" and "personnel would also yell and use profanity during these instances."

"We were shocked," Weekes says. "It was sickening that the staffers would become so cold and callous toward these young girls that they would think it was appropriate to tie them down and knock them out routinely."

Still, both attorneys knew to step carefully when dealing with accusations from tough kids. "With any child making any allegations, you are concerned that they had an agenda, so you always want to corroborate," Hittleman says. In the following weeks, the lawyers trekked back out to CATS to interview other residents. "They all told the same or similar stories time and time again. It was ordinary for these young ladies."

In early August, Weekes penned a letter to Esther Jacobo, interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families. He outlined the complaints relayed by Kate and other Citrus residents in four points: (1) Kate had been pepper-sprayed and punched by an officer; (2) "Female patients are commonly placed in isolation for prolonged periods of time using a four-point physical restraint technique"; (3) "Minor girls are routinely tied face-down to a bed for minor infractions, without the staff first employing less restrictive alternatives"; and (4) "While tied down by their arms and legs, chemical sedatives are routinely administered to further subdue female patients."

Weekes released the video clip of security-camera footage from the April fight that showed the police officer punching Kate. After media outlets aired the clip, DCF promised to investigate.

Then, a few days after Kate's knockout was filling the top slot on the evening news, a Citrus resident died.


On an afternoon in December 2012, Tanisha Howell sat in the waiting room at CATS. Her 14-year-old son, Octavious, squirmed beside her. This was the last best hope for her baby boy.

In the crib, they had dubbed him "butterball." He had plump cheeks no one could resist kissing. Later, when Octavious began slaying school placement tests, "Einstein" was the new tag. Howell, an executive secretary for Miami-Dade County; and her husband, Robert, a nurse, saw a big personality busting through the spunky kid with jutting ears. He told everyone he was going to study entrepreneurship at Yale University. Before the Howells rounded out their family with three additional kids, Octavious would beg his mom not to have any more children. He wanted her all to himself. "He was a very affectionate, passionate little boy," Howell says.

But by age 3, Octavious would sometimes throw violent tantrums. In school, he'd smash a chair against a window or bolt for traffic. "He'd apologize when it was over," Howell says. "Then he'd do good for a little bit, but when something didn't go his way, he'd start the cycle all over."

He was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, with an oppositional defiant disorder. He was prescribed a battery of meds. Howells hopped her son from program to program for kids with behavioral problems. When he reached middle school, the problems ballooned.

He began running away, eventually notching 22 disappearances. Every time, Howell filed a police report, then spent a sleepless night waiting. Several times, Octavious would be involuntarily institutionalized into Jackson Memorial Hospital under the Baker Act. It was there that someone first suggested Howell look into the Citrus Health Network.

Founded in 1978, the nonprofit today is a string of health facilities for low-income adults and kids, with revenue of $54 million per year. According to its website, Citrus serves 10,000 people annually, half of them minors. The network runs two main health clinics, crisis mental health centers for adults and juveniles, and substance abuse programs. It also provides school-based programs and housing for people who are homeless, mentally ill, and/or transitioning out of foster care.

As part of its sprawling network, Citrus operates two residential facilities for troubled kids under 18 — a 16-bed facility in Hialeah for boys under 14 and CATS in Pembroke Pines, which houses boys and girls between 14 and 18.

These are two of 15 extended-stay facilities in Florida's Statewide Inpatient Psychiatric Program (SIPP) for high-risk kids. They're last resorts for kids referred through DCF's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program. Judges can order juveniles here, or parents can voluntarily admit them.

According to the latest available tax filings, Citrus receives $25 million a year in contributions and grants. Five of the network's top doctors have salaries north of $200,000. The network's CEO, Mario Jardon, makes more than $400,000.

Citrus is overseen by a 12-person governing board, which until summer 2013 was chaired by Jorge Forte, a consultant who advised entities how to land government contracts. Forte was arrested in August when the FBI alleged that in April 2012, he agreed to accept $20,000 in kickbacks along with his business partner, the mayor of Sweetwater. In November, Forte pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and was sentenced to one year in prison.

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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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