G4S, the controversial British outsourcing firm's for-profit juvenile detention facility 'a disgrace to Florida', says grand jury

G4S, the controversial British outsourcing firm behind the disastrous security provision at the London Olympics, has been accused of running a “disgraceful” juvenile detention centre in Florida.

The Highlands Youth Academy (HYA) in Avon Park, a facility for young men aged 16 to 19 that was the site of a riot involving more than 130 children two years ago, was described as “a disgrace to the state of Florida” by a grand jury report that called for it to be closed down.

The excoriating 21-page report, unsealed last week, details a string of criticisms, including dilapidated buildings, unclean sanitary facilities, undertrained and poorly equipped staff and failure to report incidents of children escaping.

“What we have discovered at the Highlands Youth Academy simply cannot be what our Legislature and state leaders have intended for our juvenile justice system,” the jurors wrote. “While the citizens are essentially being ripped off – the juveniles are being even more poorly served. The Highlands Youth Academy should cease to exist.”

highlands youth academy bristow florida

 The grand jury called the Highlands Youth Academy’s conditions a ‘disgrace’. Photograph: State attorney's office of the 10th judicial circuit in Florida


, which is set to make a $4m profit from the facility over five years and runs 28 other juvenile detention centres in the state, said the grand jury’s report contained “multiple factual errors and misstatements”.

Photos released to the Guardian by the state attorney’s office reveal living quarters described by the grand jury as “disgraceful”: bedrooms with exposed plywood walls where children slept on steel bunk beds, and bathrooms with unpainted plaster and more plywood with peeling and dilapidated fixtures and fittings.