thought teen with no pulse was faking
Aug. 21, 2006
- Guards at a privately operated juvenile
prison didn't immediately start CPR on a collapsed
teenage inmate because they thought he was faking
even though his heart was stopped, one of the
officers told investigators.
When Josephus Johnson
heard a "gurgling" sound coming from a Willie
Durden's cell at the Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender
Correctional Center last Oct. 13, he went inside and
found the 17-year-old cold, limp and without a
But CPR wasn't begun
for 20 minutes because "some of these kids will play
pranks," Johnson told an investigator with the state
Department of Juvenile Justice, according to records
provided to The Miami Herald for a story published
Monday. The inspector "asked Johnson how someone
could get his or her heart to stop beating to
accomplish such a prank."
Durden became the
sixth Florida child to die in custody of the DJJ
since 2000. Two other children have died since then,
including Martin Lee Anderson, who died Jan. 6 after
an altercation with guards at a Bay County boot
Durden is among
several youths who died after guards or nurses
dismissed their condition as the false cries of a
faker or malingerer, raising questions about the
quality of care children in state custody receive.
"These are not
isolated incidents," children's advocate Roy Miller
said. "They are recurring, and it's shameful."
"Parents and judges
and law enforcement people need to ask the tough
question," Miller said. "Are children in state
Cynthia Lorenzo, a
spokeswoman for DJJ, said the agency has made
changes since its inspector general's report on
Durden's death in April.
"We recommended all
our providers conduct mock drills for emergency
circumstances like this and we installed automatic
external defibrillators in all of our facilities,"
Lorenzo said. "The safety and security of all the
children in our care is the agency 's top priority."
Durden was sent to
the youth prison after he violated probation on an
armed robbery conviction, but had written a paper
shortly before his death that he wanted to take
advantage of his experiences to someday help other
The head of Cypress
Creek, Joseph Hasselbach, declined to discuss the
case, citing a DJJ requirement that agencies that
contract with the state government not speak to
Johnson left Cypress
Creek in December and Esteves, his boss, was fired
in April. Working phone numbers could not be found
for either Monday.