PEER RESPONSES: Reform Schools—Then and Now

Review the case of People v. Turner and the article about the Okeechobee Reform School from this week’s resources. In your post, discuss the historical impact of these legal cases against reform schools, the social norms at the time, and their impact on the modern-day juvenile justice system. What solutions would you have made to address the issues in the O’Connell case and at the Okeechobee Reform School? How have these matters influenced our current juvenile justice system?

In response to your peers, offer at least one additional solution that they did not consider to address the above issues. Be sure to justify why you think your solution holds merit.

PEER Post 1:

Both scenarios from this weeks readings had a significant impact on juvenile reform camps today because of what happened in the past. They established the age of which juveniles could be admitted to a reform school rather than a prison. The People v. Turner established who was able to be admitted and what parents had to do with it all. The events that happened in Okeechobee are a great learning experience for all as well, and especially the state. The state needs to be aware of who they hire and what goes on in reform camps. This is probably one of the most impactful lessons from history pertaining to juvenile reform camps. Abuse and torture took place inside those walls and a lot could have been avoided. That was the norm back then however. It was to treat criminals of any age like crap and just beat the bad out of them. Times are changing and people realized that any person has rights, even if they broke the law and juveniles especially. Some solutions that could have been made to avoid this would be laws set in place that establish the age and rights of juveniles before they get arrested. Something like our constitutional amendments for juveniles. A solution for the Okeechobee situation would be simple and that is to establish a strict set of rules for those admitted and the workers employed to follow and make sure to hire people who will follow those rules and guidelines. For example, no lashing with a belt or any sort of torture because that falls under a cruel and unusual punishment. Annual check ins would not be bad either in order to check that prisons and reform camps are obeying the guidelines set in place.


Hello class,

My name is Jamey Flynn and I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. I am married with 3 beautiful daughters. I live in a rural town in Illinois. I like to spend spare time doing out door activities like fishing, camping, and watch my youngest daughter play softball. I am a fan of the Chicago Cubs baseball team and the Dallas Cowboys football team. I want to get involved in law enforcement to help people. I would like to start off as a police officer and see where that takes me. I have thought of one day maybe becoming a detective because I like mysteries and puzzles.

In regards to the discussion assignment, we were assigned to read two articles. The two articles are from very different time periods. In the People v Turner article, it explains as to what must take place in order for a child to be sent to a reform school. A child can not be sent merely because they are poor and a potential eyesore on the community. The People v Turner case explained, that a child has the same basic rights as any other man and can not be denied those rights without a fair trial.

Now we jump ahead to the time of the 1950’s. By this time reform schools had been established and were used to try too help kids who were troublesome. The Okeechobee Reform School was built to ease the overcrowding at the Florida School for Boys (Montgomery, 2014). At first the community believed it would be a good thing because it would bring more jobs to the community (Montgomery, 2014). In the era of the 1950’s children were expected to behave a certain way, and if you stepped out of line it was not uncommon to get a spanking. Many people believed that you could cure any misbehavior with the right amount of physical force. That also seemed to be the case in the Okeechobee Reform School. Boys reported being severely beaten, even to the extreme that resulted in death (Montgomery, 2014). Due to the many reported cases of abuse and the publicity, an investigation has been started into these abuse allegations. I have personally seen where adults will take advantage of children. They use their power and size to intimidate and harm children. I believe that is part of what was taking place at Okeechobee.

I think both cases have had positive impacts on the juvenile justice system. Through these cases we have come to understand that juveniles are people with rights as well. It is not the desire of the juvenile court system to condemn or beat children, but to give them a second chance at being a better citizen. Some children are born into homes of violence and exposed to it every day. That child may show violent tendencies because it is what they are subjected to, and it is their norm.

The best solution I can think of in both cases is to have adequately qualified professionals to be employed at the reform schools. For example, a guard may be qualified to properly restrain an individual, but may not be qualified to give psychiatric treatment. There are many factors that play into hiring the right professionals. All employees should go through an extensive background check. If at any time the employee shows that they can not be trusted, they should be terminated. Wages and benefits for these professionals should be fair as well. One can only imagine how difficult it could be working in a reform school. At best a majority of the kids are disrespectful and difficult to work with. This type of profession takes a physical ans a mental toll on the people that work there. They should be paid as such and have access to resources to help them with stress and any other issue that they may have.