The arrests of the seven bootcamp guards and a nurse on Tuesday for negligence in the death of a Martin Lee Anderson, a child in their custody, has increased the chorus of children's advocates who want Gov.-elect Charlie Crist to appoint Rep. Gus Barreiro to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Barreiro is the Miami Beach Republican who used his House committee to drill DJJ officials relentlessly about the incident and demanded action, forcing the state to close the Panama City boot camp where Anderson was killed, and shut-down the remaining bootcamps around the state. Barreiro is rumored to have interviewed with Crist's staff for the job of DJJ secretary and has said he is interested. At least one Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Frederica Wilson of Miami believes he's the perfect fit.
Wilson believes much of the case would never have happened "had it not been for the courage and fearless leadership of Gus Barreiro." She believes this episode has created an opportunity for Crist to set a new tone at the department and prove that he is serious about protecting children -- as he promised in his campaign when he repeatedly recited the names of children murdered in Florida: Carly Bruscia, Jessica Lundsford and Sarah Lundy.
Martin Anderson was not from Miami, Wilson said, but Barreiro "reached outside of his jurisdiction, took hold of the issue and put his career on the line because he wanted a child to receive justice. This proves that, in America, we still have people who have that kind of conviction and who can give hope to the unrepresented.''
"Mr. Crist would be well-served, and the future of juvenile justice would be improved, if he would appoint Gus,'' she said. "Florida needs no more embarrassments and Gus would not embarrass him. He would come to the Legislature, demand the right appropriation and programming and Mr. Crist would be a textbook example of what a governor should be."