Polk County Sheriff's Office Sued for Treatment of Minors in Lockups

Protestors at the Tampa Federal Courthouse
TAMPA (2012-3-21) -

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is back in the news - this time, he's been sued for jailing minors near adults.

That's according to a federal lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group argues that putting minors as young as 8 in the same building with adults is a violation of their rights. Members declined to say why any of the minors had been arrested.

Lisa and Kevin Jobe say their 15-year-old son was mistreated at the jail. The couple spoke earlier today on the steps of the Tampa Federal courthouse.

"No child should be Maced in the face - or have to hear another child scream from the pain of having these chemicals burn their eyes," Lisa Job says. "No child should have to worry about his safety because the adults who are responsible for his safety or his well-being are hurting him."

But Judd says the children are in a separate wing of the building and are not mixed with the adult population. And, to those parents or kids who say they don't like the way they are being treated in his facility, Judd says...

"All you have to do is behave, and you'll stay out of the DJJ system," Judd said at an afternoon news conference. "All you have to do is behave."

In October, the Polk County Jail began housing offenders facing juvenile charges in a separate wing of the adult jail. Last year a bill passed by the state Legislature allowed counties to take over juvenile detention centers from the state.

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