Former juveniles speak out over alleged abuse

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - "Just because we do wrong doesn't mean that we should get treated wrong and badly like they treat us," he said.

Those words are from just one former juvenile inmate who spent time in the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center. Ever since it became known that video existed showing alleged abuse at the hands of guards, more alleged victims are coming forward.

"That's not what should be going on," said another alleged victim.

A ruling from youth court judge Mike McPhail prevents WDAM from airing that video. The video may be barred from airing, but the claims of former inmates aren't.

"Then he took me to the laundry room, because he knew the camera wasn't in the laundry room, so he took me to the laundry room and he did some more beating up in there," said yet another alleged victim.

Even though they've agreed to full disclosure, WDAM is still protecting the alleged victims' identities. One former inmate says abuse from guards was all too common and no one really believed a teenager's side of the story.

"It's a bunch of juveniles in there and everybody looks at them like their criminals and thinks that they're not going to be telling the truth. They're people just like everybody else," he said.

I went to my court appointed lawyer, I went to my probation officers, I went to my drug councilors. I went to everybody and nobody tried to do nothing," a female said. "If something isn't done about it, it's just going to get worse."

The sheriff's office says something was done. Public records show one guard was fired in 2009 for misconduct. The sheriff's office confirms it was because of the guard beating a juvenile and attorney Jim Dukes Junior, during an interview last week, says the matters were handled.

"After the most major incident the entire staff was cleared, the administrator was fired, not only the guard that faces criminal charges, but others," said Dukes.

While Dukes says the center in now operating smoothly, victims say it doesn't change what happened or the possibility it could happen again.

"I seen them beat a boy until he could not walk no more and strap him in what they call the chair and put a bag over his head and he didn't do anything, at all, like I didn't see him do anything," she said.  "You put yourself there, but you don't deserve that though."

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