October 9, 2006
I’m not leaving, and you? Cynthia Allen asked that question the other day.
Although I would like to write about the boy that Joey was, how everyone loved him, and how much he wanted to get better and lead a normal life, I feel compelled to write about what really happened to Joey Aletriz and how his mother feels. resulting.
I stopped to think about his question, and these thoughts came to mind:
Imagine how you would feel if you had a teenage son who needed help coping with problems in his life. You and him together sought help and you thought you had found it. He enrolled him in a children’s residential treatment program with the promise that within six months they could help him overcome his problems. Two months after putting him on the show, he gets a phone call: “I’m sorry, Mrs. Allen, but we don’t think Joey is going to make it.”
Imagine your pain and the feeling of disbelief, the thoughts that rush into your head as you remember your son’s words about a child who had died there just a few weeks before. Imagine rushing to the hospital to find your child lifeless, lying on a bed, his face bruised almost beyond recognition. Being a nurse, you understood everything that was said and everything that happened around your son. He watched as they continued to try to revive him, only to give up when they knew there was no way for him to come back to life. Imagine holding your child in your arms when there was no life left – this is the tragic scenario that Cynthia was forced to endure.
Cynthia was told that her son was restrained because he did not want to return the hoodie he was wearing to the staff. But Cynthia remembers that the sweatshirt met her dress code and that her son should have been allowed to wear it. He also remembers that it was cold that day in February. He remembers the barracks-style rooms the children slept in and how cold it was there. Why was there a problem with his hoodie? his mother wondered.
As a nurse, Cynthia knew that what happened to her son was more than just a restraint. She has been trained in restraints and has had to perform restraints. If the restraints are done according to policy and procedure, they do not cause the types of injuries your child suffered. He understood when he read the preliminary autopsy report. She was dismayed to learn that her son’s stomach contents were in his nasal cavity. One side of his face was black and blue and the other side had a hemotoma from his temple to his jaw. His organs were damaged and he had bruises similar to those from a blow or kick on different parts of his body. The list continued as her anguish grew.
Joey’s mom lives with the memory of that day every day. She can’t shake what has happened to her son. She cannot allow her death to be in vain. Last week he wept when he said: “They didn’t even say they were sorry. No one has ever told me they were sorry they killed my son.”
I feel that Cynthia has good reason to be concerned and to want to seek justice for her son, Joey. She is not only worried about what happened to her son, but also what happened to many others. Her goal is to make sure other parents don’t have to endure the agonizing pain she has endured and continues to endure. She said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, it’s almost vacation. I don’t know how I’m going to survive without Joey this year. I’m going to have to put up with things for Alex.” Alex is his oldest son, who is also grieving the loss of his little brother.
The juvenile justice system failed to protect Joey when it was suggested to his mother that he be placed in a facility operated by a company with a history of abusive practices, some resulting in death.
Below is a list of sixteen and seventeen children who have died in the past year while in youth programs (to our knowledge, there are certainly others):
On September 11, 2005, 12-year-old Shirley Arciszewski was restrained and died of suffocation at the Charlotte Group Home in South Carolina.
On September 13, 2005, 12-year-old Alex Harris died of dehydration and a blow to the head, allegedly when he fell on his head at Hope Youth Ranch in Minden.
On September 18, 2005, 14-year-old Linda Harris was physically restrained by a worker at the Chad Youth Enhancement Center. He stopped breathing and then died.
On October 8, 2005, 13-year-old Kasey Warner was found dead in 12 inches of water at the ViaQuest Warren Avenue group home. Kasey was an autistic child who had never said a word. watchful care and supervision and that they would never leave him alone, they left him alone and drowned him in a tub with 12″ of water.
On October 13, 2005, 17-year-old Willie Durden died at the privately run Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Facility in Lecanto, Citrus County. An autopsy concluded that Willie died of ventricular arrhythmia, due to an enlarged and diseased heart. A recent report says guards waited about 20 minutes after discovering the limp teen before calling 911 and beginning CPR. One guard told investigators he waited to start CPR because teenagers sometimes “play jokes.”
On December 5, 2005, a staff member placed 12-year-old Michael “Mickey” Garcia in a restraint basket at the Star Ranch facility in Texas. Mickey stopped breathing, could not be revived, and later died.
On December 12, 2005, 16-year-old James White was killed at SummitQuest Academy in Ephrata, PA. According to newspaper articles, his death is being investigated. He allegedly fell during exercise and died.
On December 26, 2005, 14-year-old Johnny Lim complained of an excruciating headache, vomited, and fell to the floor of his cell at the King County Juvenile Detention Center in Washington. The county medical examiner ruled the death a “spontaneous brainstem hemorrhage” attributable to natural causes. There are many unanswered questions from Lim’s family and the attorney representing the staff and the center.
On January 6, 2006, 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died in a Pensacola hospital a day after guards at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office training camp punched, kneed and pressed him in the head. head in an attempt to force him to keep running. . An autopsy ordered by a special prosecutor concluded that Martin died of asphyxiation after guards covered his mouth and shoved ammonia capsules up his nose. A use-of-force report said guards had thought Martin was faking it.
On February 4, 2006, Giovanni “Joey” Aletriz, 16, died after being beaten and restrained at SummitQuest in Ephrata, Pennsylvania (details above).
On May 26, 2006, 7-year-old Angellika Arndt lost her life at the Northwest Guidance and Counseling Center in Rice Lake, WI. Angie had been restrained nine times in the month she was there, each restraint lasting an hour or two, once she was restrained for “gargling milk”. She was restrained again the next day, and the next day she died as a result of the restraint.
On May 31, 2006, 12-year-old Lenny Ortega drowned while hiking at Star Ranch in Texas. The facility was under investigation for the deaths and alleged abuse of other children there; the facility has been closed pending an investigation.
On June 17, 2006, 13-year-old Dillon Tyler Peak died after becoming ill at Peace River Outward Bound Wildlife Camp in DeSoto County, Florida. Authorities say Dillon apparently died of a severe case of encephalitis. The death remains under investigation.
On July 16, 2006, 16-year-old Elisa Santry died after nature walking in 110° weather while attending an Outward Bound wilderness expedition. She was separated from her group for 10 hours before she was found, dead, alone in the side of a canyon. She had complained that she was not feeling well early that morning, but she was allowed to walk alone.
On July 31, 2006, a friend found 16-year-old Natalynndria Lucy Slim hanging from a computer cable. His death is being investigated and is ruled a suicide at the Adolescent Residential Treatment Center operated by Presbyterian Medical Services.
On August 4, 2006, 14-year-old Daniel Kelly died during a heat wave. She was bedridden, infested with worms, and nearly paralyzed by cerebral palsy. She died in extreme heat, dehydrated, weighing only 46 pounds when she died. Wasted away in bed with bedsores, under the nose of the city’s social services agency, according to an MSNBC article dated October 25, 2006, a 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl died of dehydration; the workers did not realize the negligence.
On August 12, 2006, 16-year-old Alex Cullinane died of dehydration at Back to Basics Christian Military Academy. His death is under investigation. He did not eat for days, according to other children, and complained of stomach pain. He died in the middle of the night after getting up to go to the bathroom.
Below are two children who died last year and were allegedly abused while staying at Tranquility Bay in Jamaica. Both boys were featured in the June 22, 2006 “Rough Love” article:
On June 6, 2006, Kerry Layne Brown was found dead in her bed. Layne spent nine months at the World Association of Specialized Programs (WWASPS) program, Tranquility Bay, where he was tortured: pepper-sprayed several times a day for months (one staff member admitted on videotape), his genitals were scrubbed with toilet brushes. His life was never the same and he died at the young age of 24. His death is under investigation.
On June 7, 2006, Carter Lynn was found dead hanging from the beam in his home. Carter had been interviewed about his experiences, also on WWASPS’s Tranquility Bay program in Jamaica. His death is also under investigation.