There is a big difference between discipline and abuse. Thank you to everyone who called and wrote to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida legislators about this situation. Martin Lee Anderson paid with his life and hopefully other teenagers can escape the brutal tactics of guards and other law enforcement staff.
*** PLEASE REVIEW THE BAY COUNTY SHERIFF'S PROPOSED REPLACEMENT PLAN --- STAR ACADEMY. IT IS TOUTED AS A SCHOOL AND NOT A BOOT CAMP. READ FOR YOURSELF BUT IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK AND TALKS LIKE A DUCK...
Bay Boot Camp Closes
On Feb. 22, Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen announced that the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Boot Camp would close its doors within 90 days.
“My decision had nothing to do with demands made by anyone,” said McKeithen, “but with the fact that I saw an effective, professional program in jeopardy, unable to function as it once did.” McKeithen believes that the integrity of the program has been compromised due to the unfortunate death of Martin Lee Anderson, 14, an inmate at the boot camp, who died on Jan 6.
“Drill Instructors no longer feel confident in the execution of their duties,” said McKeithen, “ Juvenile offenders currently placed at the Boot Camp are taking advantage of the situation and are using the Abuse Hotline not for its intended purpose but as a means of retaliation.”
State Attorney Steve Meadows also wrote a letter to Gov. Jeb Bush excusing himself from the case. Meadows cited the close ties his office has with the local law enforcement and Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Meadows said he wanted to avoid any, “question to the integrity of any decisions reached.”
Bush approved the request and has already named a replacement. Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober was appointed special prosecutor for the case by an executive order issued Wednesday evening.
Bay County Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Seibert has also come under fire recently. Siebert believes that Anderson died of sickle cell trait, but others have challenged his findings.
Siebert’s skills and competence have even been questioned. Francis Terry, 57, has made statements that he failed miserably on her husband and daughter’s autopsy reports and The Miami Herald reports that Siebert’s medical license expired on Jan. 31.
''He's a bad doctor. He messed up my daughter's autopsy and my husband's autopsy and I'll bet he messed up the autopsy of that poor boy,'' Terry said in an interview with The Miami Herald.
Terry, whose husband and daughter were killed by a tornado that was spawned by Hurricane Ivan on Sept 14, 2004, said that she complained to everyone she could about Siebert, but no one would listen.
Some of the mistakes Siebert made were finding that her daughter had a prostate and testes and that her husband had no visible scars, even though he had a seven-inch scar on his back from a surgery.
Meadows’ office believed it was a simple “transcription” error that resulted in the error filled autopsy report and that Siebert later corrected the mistakes in a revised report.
Although the boot camp may be closing its doors, McKeithen is optimistic about another program entitled the Sheriff’s Training and Rehabilitative Academy, or STAR Academy. McKiethen emphasized that STAR is a school and not a boot camp.
“My desire is to reach out and offer a helping hand to parents whose children have not yet been arrested but are on a road which, without intervention, will result in them becoming embroiled in our legal system,” said McKeithen, “ I firmly believe the STAR Academy could be the solution to change the lives of these borderline children before it is too late.”
McKeithen stated that any boot camp employee who is found suitable and qualified to work at STAR would be placed there. The preliminary, draft proposal for the STAR Academy will be made public Feb. 23.
“At the close of the Boot Camp, any employee currently involved in the Martin Anderson investigation will be placed on Administrative Leave until the criminal and internal investigations are completed,” said McKeithen.
For more background on the Anderson story, read the following articles:
Governor Excuses Meadows from Boot Camp Case
Anderson's Death Still Haunting Bay
Boot Camp Video Released
Boot Camp Death Draws State Attention
Boot Camp Offender Passes Away
Also, check out the following:
Boot Camp Closure Letter
Boot Camp Videotape
Siebert's Medical Examiner License
STAR Academy - Boot Camp Replacement Plan
Send comments and suggestions to Joseph_Kemp@link.freedom.com.