Youth Services International confronted a potentially expensive situation. It was early 2004, only three months into the private prison company’s $10 million contract to run Thompson Academy, a juvenile prison in the state of Florida, and already the facility had become a scene of documented violence and neglect.
One guard had fractured an inmate’s elbow after the boy refused instructions to throw away a cup, according to incident reports. Another guard had slammed a boy’s head into the floor after an argument. The prison was infested with ants and cockroaches, toilets were frequently clogged and children reported finding bugs in their meager portions of food.