OKEECHOBEE — In the morning hours of Saturday, January 21, 2023, Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a riot in progress at the Everglades Youth Academy located at 5050 NE 168th Street, Okeechobee.
Two pods (Units 6 & 7) were actively rioting, fighting staff, causing damage by throwing desks and chairs, and tearing down the cameras and light fixtures.
Upon arrival, units established a secured perimeter and law enforcement entered the compound, and all youth detainees were placed inside their secured rooms.
Written statements were collected from all staff involved, and the involved rioters were identified by staff members, separated by law enforcement, and arrested.
One suspect resisted law enforcement while being detained, and a chemical agent was used to assist in his arrest.
Ten detainees were arrested for various charges ranging from rioting to battery on staff and transported to the Okeechobee County Jail.
Those arrested will be held without bond, two of whom were juveniles and were later transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
One staff member from the Everglades Youth Academy was transported due to their injuries, while others were treated on scene and released.
According to theFlorida Department of Juvenile Justice website, the Everglades Youth Academy
(Everglades) is a maximum-risk residential program serving males between the ages of 13 and 21. Everglades is co-located with the Everglades Youth Academy Sex Offender Program (Everglades-SOP).
The program provides delinquency intervention and mental health treatment services residents. The program services include but are not limited to a cognitive-behavioral treatment approach and evidence-based programs, case management, individual and group counseling, educational and vocational assessments and training, cultural events, physical and recreational activities, routine medical and dental treatment and aftercare preparation.
Everglades is a Type 3 program offering English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Reading. Career and technical opportunities include Culinary Arts and Business Education courses, as well as a Home Builders Institute (HBI) pre-apprenticeship program in the construction trades.
Education services are provided through a contract between the program and the Okeechobee County School District.
This program also serves as a GED® test site.
The state-owned facility has a capacity of 64 males.