TAMPA, Florida -- Three teens were in a juvenile detention center as punishment, but through the help of a guard they were able to brag about it on Facebook.
This is the latest investigation into a state juvenile facility. Just last month there was a riot at the Avon Park Youth Academy. That youth offender facility is run by an agency that has a contract with the state.
But this latest incident occurred at the West Tampa Detention Center on MLK just behind the Yankees' Steinbrenner Field. The state, not a contractor, runs the institution.
Three young men in the facility were able to take pictures in what some say are poses almost bragging about their incarceration. One of the men posted the pictures on his Facebook page, where he said, "I think I really like who I'm becoming."
The three were able to take the pictures because guard Vincent Taylor let them use his cell phone. That violates a Department of Juvenile Justice policy that prohibits personal cell phones while on duty. Taylor resigned Tuesday in lieu of further disciplinary action, including probably dismissal. Sources tell us the use of employee cell phones as a reward is common place at the facility.
Meanwhile, the 10 News Investigators have learned that another employee, supervisor Charlie Whitehead, resigned in May after he was investigated for violating several Department of Juvenile Justice policies, including the use of excessive force. A juvenile inmate alleged Whitehead choked him in the main hallway and cut him. Staff members called the abuse hotline.
We tried contacting the former guards, but were unsuccessful.
Because records involving juveniles in the facility are confidential and not subject to Florida's open records law, we can't find out what other juveniles were in the facility and if they had other incidents.
If you know someone who has been at the West Tampa Juvenile Facility and has more information on the problems there, please contact us at Tips@WTSP.com.