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Florida teens sue over solitary confinement, credit card skimmers at gas stations, and other news you may have missed last week

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Florida teens file federal lawsuit against Department of Juvenile Justice over use of solitary confinement: Two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old are suing the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, alleging their health and well-being were put in danger when the state placed them in solitary confinement. The case argues that putting minors in isolation violates the U.S. Constitution and discriminates against children with disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The 16-year-old suing the state is a pregnant girl from Jacksonville, and the suit contends the state was aware of her pregnancy and that putting her in isolation made her "more vulnerable to physical and mental harm such as a miscarriage, birth complications or aggravated pregnancy-related symptoms caused by the trauma of solitary confinement."

Inmate advocates protest at Ocala women's prison, scene of what they say was "one of the worst prison beatings in recent history": According to a lawsuit filed against the Florida Department of Corrections, Cheryl Weimar, a mentally ill woman incarcerated at Lowell Correctional Institution was beaten so badly by guards last month that she became a quadriplegic. Lowell Correctional Institution is no stranger to excessive use of force allegations; a Miami Herald investigation in 2015 looked into subpar conditions at the prison, "including rats, roaches, inadequate healthcare and staffers who force inmates to exchange sex for protection from other officers and to have access to basic necessities, such as sanitary napkins and toilet paper," the paper stated. The prison is already the subject of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Florida teachers and students among 13 states affected by Pearson hack: Florida is one of 13 states in which students in a Pearson learning program had their data exposed to hackers, according to a class-action lawsuit against the international education company. The suit accuses corporate officials of waiting four months to inform teachers and students of the hack, which was flagged by the FBI in March 2019. The lawsuit claims least 1 million students had their records exposed, here in Florida and also in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. The stolen information included first and last names, dates of birth, email addresses and unique student identification numbers, the suit claims.

Credit card skimmers found at Florida gas stations after Hurricane Dorian: In a reminder that natural disasters often lead to crime in Florida, the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspectors found skimmers, devices used to steal credit-card or debit-card information at gas pumps, while checking gas stations for Hurricane Dorian damage. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said that water infiltrated underground fuel tanks at just two of the 250 gas stations along the East Coast that were most likely to be impacted by the state's brush last week with the powerful storm. However, inspectors had to remove 15 skimmers from pumps during the inspections, the department said.

Chef José Andrés provides 100,000 meals for Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas: Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen has surpassed the six-digit milestone of meals provided to people in the Bahamas in need of relief after Hurricane Dorian. Using one of his own kitchens at Atlantis Bahamas in Nassau, Andrés and crew started making sandwiches; resort guests soon began volunteering alongside the kitchen teams. Andrés formed World Central Kitchen following the 2010 Haiti earthquake with a mission to provide healthy food to people affected by disasters. The organization has prepared meals in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Zambia, Peru, Cuba, Uganda and Cambodia.

This story is from the Sept. 11, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.

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