Posted June 1, 2006 – Military-style boot camps, like the one at which a Florida teen died earlier this year, are no longer legal under a new bill signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush Wednesday.
The Martin Lee Anderson Act, named for the 14-year-old boy who died a day after being beaten by guards at a Panama City boot camp, comes nearly five months after the incident was caught on tape.
The Jan. 5, video shows guards punching, kicking and kneeing Anderson.
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A first autopsy report found that Anderson died of sickle cell trait. But a second autopsy report released in May showed Anderson died of suffocation by guards who covered his mouth while forcing ammonia capsules up his nose.
"The death of this young man was a horrible tragedy," said Charlie Crist, Florida attorney general. "While this new law will not bring Martin Lee Anderson back, his memory will be honored as we protect other children from a similar fate. The Governor and the Legislature did the right thing by making this law a reality.
"I also want to commend Martin’s parents and their many supporters for their diligent work in bringing the important issues to the forefront. Through them, Martin’s voice has been heard."
Under the new law, instead of sending juveniles to boot camps, children will go to residential programs that outlaw guards from using "harmful psychological intimidation techniques" on children, the use of pepper spray and Tasers. The children will go through a full medical exams when they enter and leave their programs, and have a hot line they can call in case of trouble.
"No child will have to go through what my child went through," said Anderson’s father, Robert.
"This won't bring your son back," Bush said. "But I hope you know your involvement in this process has helped make a difference."
While Anderson's parents have expressed gratitude, they made it clear they would like to see the guards who took part in killing their son arrested.
"I would still like the guards to be accountable for killing my baby," Gina Jones, Anderson's mother, said. "He was only 14 years old."
Anderson was sent to the camp after he was arrested for stealing his grandmother's Jeep Cherokee from a church parking lot.
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