Looking Back at 2006: Youth Boot Camps

Tampa -

The death of Martin Lee Anderson in Bay County was the curtain call for the state's system of juvenile boot camps. In May, Gov. Jeb Bush signed the Martin Lee Anderson Act into law, requiring the conversion of military-like boot camps to new STAR, programs which prohibit the kind of physical contact that led to his death.

Most sheriffs - including Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells, who opened the state's first camp in 1993 - declined. They said the state did not provide enough money to run the new program.

Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coates closed his county's boot camp in June, saying the state didn't provide enough funding. But three months ago, the county received one-year funding of $100,000 from the state Juvenile Justice Department and $200,000 from the County Commission. Coates vowed to keep the program running, as long as he has students.

Farther east, Polk County is in the process of transitioning to STAR. They are the only two counties so far to take advantage of the program.

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