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Nation IN BRIEF : NEW JERSEY

'Lean on Me' Figure Comes Under Fire

September 28, 1996|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Joe Clark, the tough-love principal who inspired the movie "Lean on Me," is under fire in his new post as director of a Newark, N.J., youth detention center for putting teenagers in handcuffs and leg irons. "They were not abused, they were not beaten, they were simply handled in a manner commensurate with their unacceptable behavior," Clark said. The 12 boys, ages 17 and 18, were shackled for two days last week after several violent episodes in which they hurled excrement at guards, he said. Local, state and federal officials questioned Clark's actions and have met with him. They said they have not decided whether to discipline him. State correctional practices for juvenile detention facilities forbid the use of shackles, except in extreme situations or for transporting inmates, officials said.

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