After Martin's death on Jan. 6, the Bay sheriff banned the use of ammonia capsules used to revive youths who were forced to exercise.
"Why did it take a death to make these changes?" asked Gina Jones, Martin's mother. "Things should have been that way before they murdered my baby."
Shauna Manning, the mother of a youth who was at the camp when Martin was kneed, punched and wrestled by guards, said the staff abused the use of force.
"They get pleasure out of it. Seriously, it's a shame that grown men get pleasure out of this. They have no sympathy. They have no remorse. They don't care. They feel like these kids are scum, like these kids deserve to be treated like animals so that's how they're going to treat them, " Manning said Tuesday.
The sheriff dwelt on the positives in his letter to the Department of Juvenile Justice announcing the closure of the camp. He said he had to close it temporarily because the camp is "compromised, leaving the effectiveness of this program virtually paralyzed."
In his letter, McKeithen left open the possibility he'll operate some kind of youth corrections program. The state pays about $1 million yearly to help run the camp, not including state education money funnelled to it through the county.
Neither Bush nor DJJ officials could figure how McKeithen planned to operate the camp without state input. Bush promised to find appropriate facilities to account for the loss of the 30-bed medium-risk facility, where Martin was detained after joyriding in his grandmother's car.
Some lawmakers who oversee Florida's troubled 55,000-child justice system, in which 600 are in boot camps, praised McKeithen for pulling the plug on his program. They continued to lobby Bush's administration to take more steps to protect children in similar programs throughout the state.
"I'm calling on DJJ to remove every kid from all the boot camps until they can create policies and put policies in place that assure the safety of kids, " said state Rep. Gus Barreiro, a Miami Beach Republican who chairs the important Juvenile Justice Appropriations Committee, which controls DJJ purse strings.
NOT FAR ENOUGH
State Sen. Rod Smith, a former Gainesville prosecutor who is one of two Democrats running for governor, said more needs to be done.
While he supports the idea of having a special prosecutor look into the case, he suggested authorities hadn't gone far enough to assure Floridians that Martin's death was being investigated by an agency with no ties to the Bay County sheriff.
"I would have an independent investigator conduct the investigation, rather than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, " said Smith.
The reason: FDLE's chief, Guy Tunnell, is a former Bay County sheriff and founded the boot camp.
Though he does not have a direct conflict of interest, Tunnell may be plagued by the perception that he does, Smith said. Said Tunnell: "This is what we do. We investigate fairly. If we didn't do our jobs, people would say 'Aha!' And if we do, they say the same thing."
'JUSTICE FOR MARTIN'
Martin's mother said it's not enough. She said she has seen little fairness from law enforcement.
"Justice needs to be done, " she said. "We just want to get justice for Martin."
Herald staff writers Mary Ellen Klas and Cara Buckley contributed to this report.