Southern Poverty Law Center Uncovers More Abuse at Thompson Academy
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed an amended complaint on behalf of several additional children
after uncovering more apparent cases of abuse at the state-funded, for-profit Thompson Academy juvenile prison in
Broward County, Florida.
In addition to physical abuse by staff at the Pembroke Pines facility, the filing also addresses the denial of necessary
medical treatment and heightened efforts by Thompson Academy to prevent the children from communicating with
parents, advocates and attorneys. The amended complaint adds three more children who have endured abuse and
been denied their right to speak to an attorney about the unlawful conditions at the facility.
"It is outrageous that children are suffering abuse and being forced into silence by the very people charged with
caring for them,” said SPLC Attorney Vanessa Carroll. “Florida taxpayers should be outraged."
The amended complaint details increased efforts by Thompson Academy and its owner, Youth Services
International, Inc. (YSI), to prevent children from telling their parents and their attorneys about the abusive and
unlawful conditions at the facility. YSI and Thompson Academy have repeatedly ignored or denied requests from
children to meet with attorneys, and have further prevented children from seeking help by forcing them to speak to
their parents by speakerphone, which intimidates the children and discourages them from speaking openly about the
Just over two weeks ago, two children confined at Thompson Academy were called back to the Miami-Dade juvenile
court, where they complained of receiving meager and inadequate meals, causing them to go hungry and lose
substantial amounts of weight. They also complained of physical abuse by staff. Attorneys for the boys noted
bruises and scratches from staff assaults. In addition, several more reports of abuse have been called into the
Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) abuse hotline and are currently under investigation by DCF and
the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.
The original lawsuit, filed last month, describes how children held at the facility are brutalized, choked and slammed
by staff. At least one youth was sexually assaulted by a staff member. Even after the child reported the sexual abuse,
Thompson administrators allowed the staff member to have contact with the child, resulting in a second sexual