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Former Rebound youths roil jail

The teen offenders arrested after two February disturbances at a juvenile intervention program _ including a late-night riot quelled by sheriff's deputies _ are at it again.

Now they are causing trouble in the adult section of the Citrus County Detention Facility.

"They're raising hell," said Todd Stone, 19, a former Rebound cadet facing charges from the riot who called the Times Friday from the county jail.

Warden Jack Waldron said there have been several recent incidents when the juveniles have sparked disturbances by fighting among themselves or disobeying orders from corrections officers.

The latest incident occurred Monday when several juveniles refused orders to leave their common area and go to their cells about 5 p.m.

The jail called in the Special Operations Response Team, or SORT, a squad of black-clad corrections officers specially trained and armed to put down jail disturbances.

"They refused to lock down," Waldron said. "We solved the problem.

"We sent in (the SORT guards) for effect, and they went up and gave them instructions and they did what they were told. We haven't had any real problem with them being violent. The incident didn't really amount to much."

"What they did is not unusual for any inmate," Waldron said.

But Waldron said it was the first time the SORT guards have been used at the jail for several months.

On Monday night, the juveniles again refused to enter their cells. This time the jail's chief of security persuaded them to obey the order.

Though the juveniles are charged as adults, state law requires they be housed away from adult prisoners. Until they turn 18, they must be housed separately in the adult jail _ and that means they must be kept together.

The warden also said that housing the juveniles together creates a disciplinary problem for his facility because of the teens' shared history.

"I could not make that statement and back it up with any fact," Waldron said. "But in my opinion, yes, it does pose a problem.

"Obviously, if we were able to keep them in single cells (all the time), we would have less of a problem, but that would hold true if it were adults that were prone to have problems."

Waldron could not specify how many other incidents there have been. He did say that no guards or inmates have been injured in any of the incidents.

One former Rebound cadet suffered a fractured jaw, though, in a recent altercation between the juveniles, Waldron said.

And the juveniles have been throwing around water, toilet paper and other items in their jail pod.

Inmates who called the Citrus Times Friday complained that the juveniles have been especially wild and chaotic in recent weeks, thus depriving adult prisoners of privileges such as recreation time because the the youths need the attention of jail guards.

Waldron said that was not the case.

He said the juveniles are causing the same problems the adult prisoners do _ just more so recently.

"We've had problems with them, but we've also had problems with other segments of the population," Waldron said. "They are common concerns in the jail."

Formerly known as the "worst of the worst" juvenile offenders in Florida, the youths had one last chance for rehabilitation at Cypress Creek, a military-style juvenile program run by a private corporation and housed in the county jail.

But then came the disturbances on Feb. 5.

By night's end, a third of the program's 57 juveniles were in the main part of the jail, facing adult charges. The state has since replaced the Colorado-based Rebound Corp., which ran the program, with Youth Services International, a Maryland-based company that took over the facility this week.

In all, 19 juveniles age 16 to 18 were arrested on felony charges of inciting a riot, and five faced additional charges of battery on juvenile detention officers. All were charged as adults.

There were 15 guards injured in the two melees.

Last week, Circuit Judge Michael Blackstone entered pleas of innocent on behalf of all the juveniles, until they get the chance to consult their attorneys.

The public defender's office is still sorting out who will defend the juveniles charged in the February incidents. Because of the number of defendants, some cases may be assigned to local Citrus County attorneys who handle cases for the office.