Crime

State Officials Cited Lack of Emergency Training at Palm Beach Juvie Jail Where Teen Died

Some staffers at a West Palm Beach juvenile jail where a teenager died this month were not trained to know the facility's safety, security, and emergency plans, according to a state quality assurance report written in February. Meanwhile, "management accountability" at the jail was given a "minimal" rating by state Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) officials -- one step above a failing grade.

Despite these shortcomings, the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center won an overall grade of "acceptable" five months before Eric Perez,18, died in custody there. Two jail employees have been fired and four others have been suspended in the wake of Perez's death.

Perez woke early in the morning on July 10, "dazed and frantic," according to the Palm Beach Post. He vomited on the floor but was given a soft drink and allowed to go back to sleep. Instead of calling 911, a jail supervisor called a nurse to help Perez, but the nurse didn't return the call.

In the February review by state officials, the jail was commended for having a registered nurse on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On July 10, Perez slipped in and out of sickness and sleep for six hours before a jail supervisor discovered that the teenager barely had a pulse. Only then did the supervisor call 911. By the time paramedics arrived around 8 a.m., Perez was dead. Authorities from DJJ are still investigating the incident.

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Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab