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Topics - GregFL

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News Items / Teen Beat to death at boot camp, captured on Video
« on: February 12, 2006, 04:51:00 AM »
Teenager lost his chance to finish turnaround
A teenager sentenced to boot camp was thriving at school, respectful at work, and - before the joyride - finally on track.

Published February 12, 2006

St Petersburg Times

PANAMA CITY - Martin Lee Anderson struggled at school, so his parents sent him to the Emerald Bay Academy, a school that specializes in underperforming kids.

Martin thrived. He excelled at math. He won a leadership award. He bested his classmates at chess.

"He was a well-liked young man," principal Joe Bullock said. "He did not create problems or disruptions in class."

But just as everything finally seemed to be going right, Martin's young life fell apart.

Martin was charged with grand theft after he and a few friends took his grandmother's car on a joyride.

On Jan. 5, the 14-year-old Panama City teen collapsed during his first day at a boot camp run by the Bay County Sheriff's Office and the state Department of Juvenile Justice. He died at a Pensacola hospital.

Martin's death has brought attention to Juvenile Justice's boot camps and provided critics a prime example of what they consider the system's failings.

Last week, two legislators claimed that a video of Martin's final hours shows several drill instructors beating him in the boot camp's yard. The tape, which has not yet been made available to the public or Martin's family, so infuriated state Rep. Gus Barreiro, R-Miami Beach, that he compared it to the Rodney King beating.

That comparison angered Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen, who called the legislators "loose cannons" who had done nothing but "add fuel to an already volatile situation."

* * *

Martin was born to Rober t Anderson and Gina Jones on Jan. 15, 1991. He lived in a tidy yellow house with green trim on Seventh Street with his mother and his sister, 13-year-old Startavia. His father and other family lived nearby.

Martin grew into a lanky teen who loved basketball, Archie comic books and Xbox. He never lacked for friends and was a leader among the neighborhood youth and at school. He wanted to play basketball and go to college, his parents say. He told his father he would like to drive a truck.

A poster of rapper Lil' Wayne is taped to his bedroom door. A phone next to his bunk bed still has his voice on the answering machine. A framed letter from a class assignment in November sits near one wall.

"I am like a shining star in the world," it reads in his tight, small cursive.

Martin begged his mother to let him get a part-time job at a Burger King in a convenience store on 23rd Street. He had wanted to earn extra money for shoes, a cell phone and to buy pizza and hot wings, she said. She relented, letting him work a few days a week.

"He worked harder than I've ever seen any 14-year-old do," said co-worker Debra Adams, 40. Martin often worked the early morning shift on weekends, something a less responsible teen couldn't have handled, she said. He regularly started those shifts between 7 and 8 a.m., she said.

He treated customers and employees with respect, addressing them as "Miss" and "Mister."

The idea of Martin acting up at the boot camp doesn't sit right with Adams. "I just can't see why they would have to restrain Martin," she said.

"He might have made one mistake, but he didn't deserve to die," she said.

That mistake was swiping his grandmother's car in June during church. While she sat near the front of the sanctuary, Martin, his sister and several friends slipped out of church and drove off. Their escapade ended when the car struck a pole.

Several months later, Martin broke his court-imposed curfew, and a judge ordered him to a boot camp, Jones said.

The family chose the local boot camp because it was only a few minutes' drive from their home. Shortly before he started his assignment, Martin and his mother met with a drill instructor. That's when Jones began to get a bad feeling, she said.

The instructor accused her son of being a gang member, she said.

"He said, "When you come in my house, you're on my rules,"' recalled Jones, 36.

On the day she dropped him off at the camp, they shared a final embrace. "He said, "I love you,' and the way he said it, he knew something,"' Jones said.

The next time she saw Martin, he was in the hospital. Blood was running from his nose, and it looked broken, she said. His body had swollen so much that the 140-pound boy looked about 300 pounds, his father said.

Jones said the family wanted to donate his organs, but they were told they were too damaged.

"Certainly, the family believes there was trauma," said the family's attorney, Benjamin Crump of Tallahassee.

Just what happened in the hours Martin spent at the boot camp, a single-story brick compound enclosed in a razor-wire topped fence, isn't yet clear.

Typically, a new arrival undergoes an evaluation by a nurse, a physical fitness assessment and an introduction to behavioral expectations by drill instructors, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Ruth Sasser. Some drill instructors are sworn law enforcement officers, she said, but it's not a requirement for the job. The exercise requirements and procedures are nothing out of the ordinary, Sasser said.

"It's very typical of any boot camp," she said.

That may be the problem, said Barreiro.

* * *

Boot camps arose in the mid 1980s as tough-on-crime attitudes swept national politics. In 1987, as Florida prisons began to overflow, then-Gov. Bob Martinez signed a bill creating the camps. The first one opened in Manatee County in 1993. Boys in blue prison uniforms ran obstacle courses, marched in the sun and shouted chants.

"I used to live a life of crime. Now I'm doing boot camp time," one went.

But critics arose almost immediately, wondering if the flashy salutes, shiny shoes and dozens of push-ups in the dirt could reform young criminals. One scoffed that all it would produce was a "well-conditioned mugger."

By 1995, lawmakers were revisiting the idea in light of poor performance reports. One study found three out of four recruits at the Manatee camp were re-arrested within a year of release. Another study in 1998 found 87 percent of graduates from Broward County's now-defunct camp had been re-arrested. Today, five boot camps exist in Bay, Manatee, Martin, Pinellas and Polk counties, serving 197 youths. They must stay for at least four months, but most stay six.

Barreiro has emerged as the most vocal critic, arguing that camps are failures built on intimidation and abuse. One of his central points is that recent reforms in Florida calling for less aggressive tactics with youthful offenders did not apply to boot camps.

"The DJJ has known for years that boot camps didn't have to meet the same standards," he said. "Why does it take a death to show that's a problem?"

Barreiro called for their end after Martin's death in January but it was not until the video became known that his cause took hold, drawing national media attention.

"They are dangerous, they don't change behavior and they cost a lot of money," he said.

There has been one other death at a Florida camp. In 1998, 16-year-old Chad Franza hanged himself at the Polk County facility. His parents won settlements from the county, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the camp's private health care provider.

Though advocates still back the camps, additional research and recidivism studies aid Barreiro. The Department of Juvenile Justice's records show that 62 percent of graduates are re-arrested, a rate experts call high.

"They're simply not effective," said Aaron McNeese, a Florida State University dean who has studied boot camps. "Everybody equates boot camp with getting tough. Whether it works or not, it looks good."

Backed by the video, Barreiro heads with confidence into Wednesday's meeting of the House Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee. He scheduled a workshop to discuss the camps and whether they deserve continued funding.

It promises to be a heated meeting. One former sheriff, Pinellas' Everett Rice, is now a lawmaker on the committee. Stressing he had not seen the video, Rice said, "I don't think we should throw everything out just because of one incident. I think they have been successful programs."

Perhaps a greater obstacle is Barreiro's counterpart in the Senate, Stephen Wise of Jacksonville, who has said he supports the programs.

"Every once in a while something happens," Wise said recently. "It happens in prisons. It happens in real life, too. It's a shame. We just have to make sure we try to fix it."

* * *

Jones is tortured by the thought of her son's final hours. The day she took him to the boot camp, his face looked as if he had been crying, she said.

She told him she had been crying, too.

It was okay to cry, she said, and promised they would see each other again soon.

August 14, 1973

Charles Mays
556 W. Flagler St.
Miami, Fl  

Re:  The Seed

Dear MR. Mays:

I'm not sure I can be of much help to you concerning your investigation of the Seed's operational procedures and governmental involvement.  I have had only a brief exposure to the mysterious dealings of the "drug rehabilitation program."

During the early part of July, I had the occasion to meet an eighteen year old who had just been sentenced to six months in the Seed, said sentence being imposed by a local municipal judge.  During the course of the investigation of that incident I learned that certain police officers had retained a quantity of evidence seized during the course of the youth's arrest.  The police retained this evidence to use a threat, thus any effort on my part to have the sentence of the court vacated would have exposed the youth to felony charges.  I therefore abandoned my effort to aid him, as I could do nothing that would really "help" him.

However, I have learned that the above method of retaining evidence (either by the police or the Seed itself) is not uncommon.   I have spoken to several circuit court judges, in this area and they  are not at all impressed with the Seed's attitude of being above the law.  Other than the aforementioned conferences I have not had a chance to challenge the Seed's authority to completely deprive an offender of his basic rights.

page 2

I do know that it is very difficult to visit a "Seedling" while he is at the Seed.  During my brief term as the aforementioned youth's counsel I literally had to threaten the people of the seed before they would even allow me to talk to my client.

There are a great many questions concerning The Seed that need to be answered.  Both the methods of "obtaining" Seedlings and the method of indoctrination need to be aired so that all can see how close 1984 really is.

I am sorry that I cannot be of much assistance in your investigation.  If I ever Get a client again, who, like the aforementioned youth, was railroaded into the program, I definitely plan to raise Hell, but until then I really have no standing.


John Henninger.
Henninger & Disano
Attorneys and Counselor at Law
Clearwater Fl   33516

The Seed Discussion Forum / Has anyone heard from Jimmy Cusik?
« on: January 14, 2006, 03:15:00 PM »
And if so, how is he doing?

This is the article I referenced in the "a taste of the next article" thread.  I found this article while in college at the university of Florida Library in around 1981. It was written by Eleanor Randolph in 1974 and published in  "these are new Times", a then national publication. Eleanor Randolph was one of two despised writers from the St Pete times that caused a Seed parent led boycott of the newspaper. She used to attend open meetings on a regular basis, and Art would have the group scream out "luv ya Eleanor" and then everyone would snear and laugh.

 The Cover page had a picture of a kid that had been "robotized" with wires sticking out of his chest and a glazed look on his distanced eyes. This was the way people described seedlings back then, and I kept the article  all these years.

Enjoy this article!  We have all talked about how the seed changed over the years, and how some of us went to programs that were different.  This article captures the Seed of my fact it nails it down hard.  Welcome to a disturbing view into my world at age 14.

The Seed Discussion Forum / Wanted: The Seed of Hope
« on: January 13, 2006, 01:46:00 PM »
Can someone please, please pretty please get me a copy of

"the Seed of Hope".

Terry?  Maggie?  Anyone?

I would be forever in your debt.  Please respond here or in private. I will of course, pay all shipping and/or copying costs, and will also make an additional digital copy for whoever can deliver the goods.


The Seed Discussion Forum / a taste of the next article....
« on: January 13, 2006, 01:11:00 PM »
Just a tease for you....because I luv ya!

"after that, Seed officials sent for his parents in order to begin one of the more extreme treatments for those who are slow to convert.  While the entire staff watched, Pat's father obeyed the supervisors' orders.  He tried to whip The Seed's credo of love into his teenage son.

A pinched look comes over Pat's face when he talks about the incident.  He can remember fighting with his father and  suddenly seeing blood on the man's lip.  He can still see his mother standing in a crowd of smiling Seed teenagers.  She was crying.  Pat's father, who even now tells the story over involuntary tears, says that after the public beating he went to the nearest bathroom and vomited."

Notable that this happened in Ft Lauderdale, not in St Petersburg, where I can personally attest to it occuring there on at least two occasions as well, and yes a girl came back to group with a black eye, and yes a song was ordered to cover up the beating one guy was taking by his father in the Morgan yacht warehouse behind group in the big room right behind.  I was there, and I was terrified. After he was beaten by his father at the direction of staff, the entire group was told that it could happen to anyone.

The Seed Discussion Forum / "if you don't, she will die"
« on: January 12, 2006, 12:22:00 PM »
here is an article that ran in the St Petersburg Independent on 6/3/1974, shortly after I graduated. Notble is that this was, for a while, the 'pro-seed' newspaper in town.  

[Bold and emphasis in original article]


by Paul Zach, staff writer.

A 16 year old  girl was dragged screaming and kicking from a St. Petersburg school recently and taken to The Seed, a drug rehabilitation center here.

The girl was forced into a car by two "volunteer" parents from The Seed, accompanied by the girl's mother, and taken to the drug progam's warehouse near Tyrone Square Mall during classes.

The girl's mother told the Evening Independent she had given consent for her daughter to be taken to The Seed, but later changed her mind about keeping here there after witnessing the way her daughter had been treated and how she reacted.

The principal of St. Petersburg Catholic High School where the incident occured, Mrs. Mary Wells, said she has taken action protesting the incident, but would not reveal what it was.

Mrs. Wells confirmed "force" was used, but said she did not know if reports that the girl had been beaten in the schoolyard were true.

She said the action had been "investigated and documented" and noted diaproved (sic)  of any kind of forceable conduct on moral grounds.

the girl involved told an Evening Independent reporter that she was beaten by the man after being pushed into the car.  She displayed black-and-blue marks on her legs which she said resulted from the incident.

The girl's mother said the man was only trying to keep the girl from escaping. "otherwise she would have run away", she said.  The mother would not reveal the names of the two seed parents.

The mother said the two parents had convinced her to put her daughter in the Seed telling her , If you don't, she will die".

"They told me she was taking all kinds of drugs, Marijuana, PCP, THC, cocaine, mescaline, LSD, everything but heroin.", she said.

The mother,  a widow, said she agreed to go with the two Seed parents to take her daughter from school, because she was afraid her daughter would "die" if she didn't.

The girl was called from class by her mother under the premise she had to go to the doctor.  When the girl saw the Seed parents, she said she knew something was up and tried to run.

the resulting scuffle in which the girl screamed and kicked as she was dragged to the car was witnessed by teacher and students in the schoolyard.

A spokesman at the St. Petersburg branch of the Seed who gave her name only as "Libby" said today she could not comment on the incident. The director of the program, Art Barker, was unavailable for comment this morning.

The Seed Discussion Forum / The Seed Discussion Forum...5 years old!
« on: January 02, 2006, 10:42:00 AM »
The first post in the SDF was 12/28/2001.  We just hit five years old, and no longer are we wetting the  bed!


Seriously, thanks to all for making this an educational and inspiring process.  Speaking for myself, I have learned a tremendous amount and I appreciate the courage it has taken everyone to dig up these memories and face them down, all the while challenging ourselves and our firmly held conceptions of what occured.

In addition, it has been great reconnecting with some cool people and meeting some new ones.  Imagine, I never thought I would make friends with an old staff member who is pro seed, but I did (ft laud, John Und to name a few).

Thanks again everyone. Lets keep it going.

The Seed Discussion Forum / Maggies Friend thread
« on: December 10, 2005, 11:27:00 AM »
In respect for Maggie's idea to have a thread DEVOID of talk about the seed, we are going to do it!

This thread is to reconnect with friends, period.  You must AVOID talking about the seed in this thread, negative or positive. DO NOT SNEAK IT IN.    :grin:

Negative or positive seed comments will be moved to Maggie's other thread.

Have at it.

The Seed Discussion Forum / Oh where oh where has my beloved seed gone.
« on: November 14, 2005, 12:31:00 PM »
Don't worry my lovilies. It is still here to "fix" people.  It lives on thru ignorance and greed in other forms.

watch the video.

The roots of this program trace right back to good ole Art Barker's little St Pete program.

This thread is to honor our friends that were in the seed and have since passed, for any reason.  Please list the name,seed status, cause of death, and time frame.

I will start.

The Seed Discussion Forum / What is your Seed Status?
« on: September 05, 2005, 01:14:00 AM »
What is your status as a seed kid and how long were you there and what year?  Were you a graduate? Staff Member? Junior Staff? Seed Employee? Did you leave before Graduating?

I will start.

The Seed Discussion Forum / can we all
« on: August 13, 2005, 09:55:00 PM »
Drop the devisivness and hostility that seems to have sprung up on this website?

A couple comments.

I dont really understand all the hostility about things that happened 35 years ago. If we are to hold people accountable for what occured then, then we should all  have some self loathing as well for the things we did.

Things said now are different.

I also see people getting hostile just because people disagree. This is juvenile.

This website shouldnt strive to run off new people because they have different opinions, nor attempt to alienate people. It is much more apropriate to disagree with what someone says than to attack the messenger.

Just my opinion.

The Seed Discussion Forum / answers to some of your questions....
« on: August 05, 2005, 03:25:00 PM »
will soon be available. Here is one tidbit for you.

The infamous "boxing Ring" in Cleveland was also in Ft Lauderdale, and was not a ring at all but gloves and kids boxing in front of the group. The idea for it came from Art Barker watching "rocky", Art fancing himself as a boxer and also being enamored with participation sports, including having one former golden gloves boxer on staff.

No connection to the Synanon boxing ring. Boggles the mind that this happened at the synanon and at the Seed with no direct connection.

Many of the postings on this website have been speculative because we have lacked a deep insider to set the record straight, one that has no axe to grind, no group to protect, no allegance to anyone but himself/herself and the truth.

sure would be nice if that person would come here and pay us a visit, eh?


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