Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

G4S runs nearly 30 juvenile detention centers in Florida alone. (Photo: G4S)

G4S runs nearly 30 juvenile detention centers in Florida alone. (Photo: G4S)

For-Profit Prison Accused of Subjecting Juveniles to 'Disgraceful' Conditions

G4S already stands accused of human rights violations from Israel to South Africa to the United Kingdom

Sarah Lazare

A for-profit British private security firm whose human rights abuses have been documented around the world, from Israel to South Africa to the United Kingdom, stands accused by a grand jury of operating a horrific juvenile detention center in Florida where conditions are so poor, and hygiene so bad, that the prison "should cease to exist."

The firm G4S operates the Highlands Youth Academy in Avon Park, Florida, where young men and boys from 16 to 19 years old are incarcerated. A riot at the prison two years ago prompted the investigation.

In a report completed in late June and unsealed earlier this month, referred to as a "presentment," the Grand Jury of Polk County declared: "The existence of the Highlands Youth Academy in its current state is a disgrace to the state of Florida."

"The buildings are in disrepair and not secured, the juvenile delinquents are improperly supervised and receive no meaningful tools to not re-offend, the staff is woefully undertrained and ill equipped to handle the juveniles in their charge, and the safety of the public is at risk," the presentment states. "Yet, G4S has a 9 percent profit margin and expects to make $800,000 in profit this year from the operation of the Highlands Youth Academy."

G4S runs 28 other juvenile detention centers in Florida alone. According to The Ledger, G4S has a $40 million contract to run the Highlands Youth Academy for five years. The presentment emphasizes: "While the citizens are essentially being ripped off—the juveniles are being even more poorly served."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone

Noting his refusal to cooperate beyond an informal April interview, the committee's chair said that "we are left with no choice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders Pushes Back Against AIPAC Super PAC With Endorsements of Tlaib and Levin

"Once again, these extremists are pouring millions of dollars into a congressional race to try to ensure the Democratic Party advances the agenda of powerful corporations and the billionaire class."

Brett Wilkins ·


Missouri Hospital System Resumes Providing Plan B After 'Shameful' Ban

The health network had stopped offering emergency contraception over fears of violating the state's abortion law—a "dangerous" move that critics warned could become a national trend.

Jessica Corbett ·


'An Act of Conquest': Native Americans Condemn SCOTUS Tribal Sovereignty Ruling

"Every few paragraphs of the majority opinion has another line that dismissively and casually cuts apart tribal independence that Native ancestors gave their lives for," observed one Indigenous law professor.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Lunacy': Democrats Risk Running Out of Time to Confirm Federal Judges

"Democrats aren't filling open seats right now in federal district courts because, for unfathomable reasons, they are letting red state senators block nominees," said one critic.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo