St. Petersburg Times - Nov 24, 1982
THERE'S NO EXCUSE
No wonder the practice is called "hogtying." The punishment, meted out at one of Florida's juvenile
prisons, is brutal and inhumane as it sounds: Handcuffs and anklecuffs are fastened together behind the
backs of boys and pulled so tight that their bodies bow.
Youths at the state's three juvenile prisons should not be hogties for any reason. Yet, boys at the Arthur
G. Dozier School in Marianna have been shackled for such minor offences as cursing the staff and beating
After teen-agers at Dozier complained to visitors they were being put in a dent ion unit against the rules,
hogtied and otherwise mistreated, an investigation was conducted by the Inspector General's Office of the
Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS). The agency oversees the state's training schools
for delinquent youths.
Some of the allegations were true, according to the HRS investigative team, including charges that boys
were held in the dention unit for reasons other than those allowed by the rules and regulations.
It's shocking how frequently hogtying was used at Dozier. The investigation found that boys at the prison
were hogtied eight times between Sept 7 and October 1 for periods ranging from 10 minutes to an hour.
Shackling usually occur in an adjustment unit or an isolation room, their reports said. However restraints
sometimes were used to transport youths to the adjustment unit.
The cruel practice cannot be justified. Guards wouldn't be allowed to hogtie inmates in adult prisons. Why
should authorities be allowed to do something that barbaric to children? State officials responsible for
allowing the practice deserve more than admonishment. They should be fired.
The response of officials at the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), which oversees
the training schools, has been disappointing so far.
Fred Baldwin, HRS assistant secretary of operations, said last Friday that the staff at Dozier already has
switched from metal handcuffs and anklecuffs to leather restraints as a result of the investigation. The
agency also is working to develop a comprehensive policy on the use of restraints at Dozier, as well as
implementing other recommendations made in the report, Baldwin added.
The policy on restraints should include a ban on hogtying. When it is necessary to restrain an unruly
youngster, humane methods ought to be used.
Not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington based National Prison Project is planning
to file a lawsuit against HRS, challenging many questionable practices in Florida's juvenile prisons as cruel
and unusual. Lawyers with San Francisco's Youth Law Center and Southern Legal Counsel Inc. of
Gainesville also are participating in the suit.
All Floridians ought to be angry at state officials who allow practices so barbaric at juvenile prisons that a
suit is necessary.