On Jan. 4, 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson was sent to a Bay County juvenile boot camp for joyriding in his grandmother’s car after church.
On Jan. 5, guards forced Anderson to exercise after he had collapsed earlier that day.
On Jan. 6, nearly eight guards hit and kneed Anderson.
That same day, he died in Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola after being taken off of life support.
His official cause of death after his first autopsy was not reported until five weeks after he passed. Then, after a second autopsy was done months later, the results revealed that Anderson suffocated on ammonia fumes.
Is this the kind of punishment that joyriding in your grandmother’s car deserves?
Do a few moments of pleasure warrant a lifetime of pain for his family? Martin was only 14 when he was sent to the boot camp. Imagine all the things that he will miss and that his parents and grandparents will never get to see him do.
No prom, no graduation, no first day of college, nothing. Martins’s parents, Robert Anderson and Gina Jones, are suing the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office for $40 million.
While they deserve the money, it cannot bring back what is most important in their lives: their son.
The civil trial for Martin’s murder is scheduled to start April 16, 2007. The trial will take place in the court of Chief Judge Robert L. Hinkle at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee.
It is time for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office to acknowledge what they did. Though the Anderson family is suing them, there is no amount of money that can substitute for the life of their son.
Angelica Washington for the Editorial Board.