One mother, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation against her son, said Stewart sometimes followed her out to the parking lot after her visits and instructed her where to leave the money. She also said Stewart and Bourne smuggled in pornographic material, alcohol and cigarettes, which they sold. Cigarettes went for $50 a pack. The two guards, she says, even sold the boys time on their cell phones.
State inspectors have found numerous problems at the facility in the past few years including unsanitary conditions, dangerously low staffing levels, and even instances of child abuse. Some of the youths tell how they were forced to urinate in milk containers because the guards would not open their cell doors at night so they could use the bathroom.
Bob Sherman, director of Nassau's Department of Social Services, says that these issues have been addressed and that the most recent state inspection in December found no problems. As for the two guards' arrests, Sherman simply says the situation is "regrettable."
James Clarke, an assistant district attorney for Nassau County, used somewhat stronger language to describe the situation involving Stewart, who makes $31,000 a year, and Bourne, who makes $29,000. "It's the job of all of the employees of the juvenile detention center to protect and care for all of the residents, without being paid by the parents or family members," he said. "So it's particularly outrageous that employees would extort money from the fearful parents of juvenile residents of this facility."
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