Behind locked doors at juvenile detention center - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Behind locked doors at juvenile detention center

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - A teen, who died in juvenile detention, has inspired others to come forward with allegations of negligence and unfair treatment while under the supervision of guards at the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

One teen is now shedding light on what goes on behind the locked doors of the facility. He says he went to school with Eric Perez and also spent time in the same detention center where Perez was found dead in a medical confinement room.

The teen says he is sad one of his friends is no longer living, but is not surprised at the neglect he suffered at those responsible for his care.

Eric Perez's death at the Palm Beach Regional Detention Center has prompted a state investigation. Now, a teen, who has been detained at the center before, is talking only to Fox 29. "The tent is real crooked."

The tent, he says, is the inside of this center. This teen does not want his identity revealed. He says he suffers from chronic asthma and recalls needing help when he was inside. "When I've had headaches, when I felt sick, I've been told to just sleep it off."

The teen says he knew Perez as kid who did what he had to do in order to survive. "I saw Eric struggle many times, so he could eat."

He fought for a reason, and it was to survive. Alleged wrong doing ultimately landed Perez in the detention center where he would die -- overcome by sudden illness, allegedly left without medical care for hours. "We don't got nobody protecting us."

"I got my whole eye split open and a guard was looking through the window talking about f---him up. The problems were supposed to be fixed years ago."

In 2003, 17-year-old Omar Paisley died from a ruptured appendix at the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center after being denied medical attention. A grand jury investigation of that Miami-Dade Center found incompetence, ambivalence and negligence. "This seems to be a deja vu even here."

The Perez family attorney, Richard Schuler, says Paisley's death led to changes in how staff were trained and required to respond to sick juveniles. Schuler argues training was forgotten when Perez became severely ill -- vomiting and suffering from a severe headache. "Tthere were rules and regulations put in place at that time and are effect today, and they were ignored. And this teen fears what may happen if he winds up in the detention center again. So what, I'm going to die next because they don't want to take care of me. And we took the teens allegations to the department of juvenile justice.

In a statement released to us, they say, "DJJ does not tolerate staff compromising the health and safety of youth in our care".

Tey also say "The center is to provide youth immediate and unrestricted access to the statewide child abuse hotline."

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