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BOOT CAMP SUBSTITUTE IS UNPOPULAR

A new system was created after a teen's beating and death, but only Polk County has established a replacement camp.

The sheriff's juvenile justice program that was designed in the wake of the death of Martin Lee Anderson and envisioned as a replacement for boot camps has gone largely unused.

After 14-year-old Anderson died in 2006 following a confrontation with guards at a Panama City boot camp for juvenile offenders, lawmakers did away with military-style boot camps.

They created a new type of program intended as a replacement, a program similar in its highly structured approach, but with a ban on physical discipline and a focus instead on education, job training, community service and counseling.

Lawmakers set aside $10.6-million for the program, known as the STAR program, for Sheriff's Training and Respect.

But Polk County is the only place where a sheriff's agency has decided to try the program.

Several sheriffs whose counties had run boot camps have said the new STAR program includes too many expensive requirements and too little money, despite the $10-million allocation. Polk County received $4.4-million this year for its program.

Sheriffs in Manatee and Pinellas counties said last year that the counties wouldn't be able to do what the program required for the money the Legislature was making available.

Rex Uberman, the Juvenile Justice Department's assistant secretary for residential services, agreed that for some counties, the program isn't financially feasible.

Florida had five juvenile boot camps in January 2006 when Anderson died at the camp in Panama City. Lawmakers abolished the camps and created the STAR program during the spring 2006 legislative session.

The money lawmakers allocated for the program that wasn't spent will be directed to other programs, Uberman said.

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