They’re children of the new Florida ethic. Zombie kids warehoused on the cheap in the state’s juvenile lock-ups. Kept quiet, manageable and addled senseless by great dollops of anti-psychotic drugs.
A relatively small percentage of young inmates pumped full of pills actually suffer from the serious psychiatric disorders that the FDA allows to be treated by these powerful drugs. But adult doses of anti-psychotic drugs have a tranquilizing effect on teenage prisoners. Prescribing anti-psychotics for so many rowdy kids may be a reckless medical practice, but in an era of budget cuts and staffing shortages, it makes for smart economics.
The Palm Beach Post reported last week that the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has been buying twice as many doses of the powerful anti-psychotic Seroquel as it does ibuprofen. As if the state anticipated more outbreaks of schizophrenia than headaches or minor muscle pain.
The Post found that Florida purchased 326,081 tablets of Seroquel, Abilify, Risperdal and other antipsychotic drugs during a two-year period for the boys and girls who occupy the 2,300 beds in state-run residential facilities. (Most of the state’s juvenile offenders are held in jails operated by for-profit contractors. Records revealing the quantity of medications that private companies pour down their prisoners’ gullets were not available.)
Such drugs, meant for adults, are known to send children into suicidal despair, along with risking heart problems, weight gain, diabetes and facial tics. Yet, the DJJ and its contract psychiatrists push them willynilly onto their young wards.