Florida Senate - 2012                              (NP)    SB 46
       By Senator Fasano
       11-00099-12                                             201246__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act for the relief of the victims who were abused
    3         while confined to the Florida Reform School for Boys
    4         located in Marianna and Okeechobee; providing an
    5         appropriation to compensate them for injuries and
    6         damages sustained as result of the abuses perpetrated
    7         by the personnel of the reform schools; providing a
    8         limitation on the payment of fees and costs; providing
    9         an effective date.
   11         WHEREAS, during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, certain minors
   12  were sent to the Florida School for Boys located in Marianna and
   13  Okeechobee, Florida, and
   14         WHEREAS, some of the boys who were sent to those reform
   15  schools were severely physically and psychologically abused by
   16  the personnel operating the reform schools in Marianna and
   17  Okeechobee, and
   18         WHEREAS, some of the boys who were physically,
   19  psychologically, and sexually abused had been sent to the reform
   20  school for “crimes” such as being truant from elementary school,
   21  for running away from abusive homes, for running away from
   22  foster homes, for being “incorrigible” in an orphanage, for
   23  jumping a fence at a city swimming pool, or for smoking, and
   24         WHEREAS, many of the boys were not given a trial prior to
   25  being sent by the state to the reform schools, and
   26         WHEREAS, more than 300 former students of the reform
   27  schools have come forward alleging abuses during the 1940s,
   28  1950s, and 1960s, and
   29         WHEREAS, many beatings were inflicted in a building known
   30  as the “White House” at the reform school in Marianna, and
   31         WHEREAS, the boys were forced to lie face down on a blood-
   32  and urine-stained cot, were told to bite a pillow covered with
   33  blood, vomit, and bodily fluids, and
   34         WHEREAS, the boys were struck repeatedly (as many as 100
   35  strikes) on their buttocks and legs with a leather razor strap
   36  that had a wooden handle, and
   37         WHEREAS, such strikes were given with a full swing from
   38  overhead and were given with such force that the strap
   39  frequently cut into the boys’ skin, causing bleeding and
   40  bruising, and
   41         WHEREAS, such strikes frequently caused portions of
   42  clothing to become embedded into the skin, requiring pieces of
   43  their cotton underwear be extracted from the boys’ flesh, and
   44         WHEREAS, school employees imposing the whippings would turn
   45  on a large industrial fan to muffle the screams of the boys
   46  being beaten, and
   47         WHEREAS, the personnel of the reform schools who
   48  perpetrated such beatings would make monetary bets on which of
   49  them could draw blood first from the boys, and
   50         WHEREAS, some victims needed medical treatment following
   51  the beatings and were left with permanent scars, and
   52         WHEREAS, some of the boys who were severely beaten were as
   53  young as 10 years of age, and
   54         WHEREAS, after being beaten, some boys were placed in
   55  solitary confinement for as long as 30 days in an approximately
   56  8-by-8-foot cell having no lights or windows, containing only a
   57  bunk with a bare mattress, and a bucket to be used as a toilet,
   58  which was known as the “hole,” and
   59         WHEREAS, the boys were segregated at the reform schools
   60  into white and black areas, and
   61         WHEREAS, both races were subjected to beatings, and
   62         WHEREAS, some of the beatings were given as punishment for
   63  “violations,” such as eating an extra pancake at breakfast,
   64  eating blueberries while running an errand, wearing buttons with
   65  the wrong insignia on the jacket, lying about using a curse
   66  word, having a “bad attitude,” or smiling at the wrong time, and
   67         WHEREAS, on one occasion, a boy was tied between two trees
   68  while he was repeatedly kicked in the groin, and
   69         WHEREAS, some of the boys were simply pulled out of their
   70  beds in the middle of the night for beatings or for sexual
   71  assaults, and
   72         WHEREAS, some of the boys were raped and otherwise
   73  physically and sexually assaulted, including being forced by the
   74  reform school personnel, supervisors, and cottage “fathers” to
   75  perform oral sex, and
   76         WHEREAS, beatings in the Okeechobee facility included
   77  strikes with leather straps that had quarters or dimes embedded
   78  in the leather to provide extra weight, and assaults using
   79  “probing rods” that were made of wood and used for punishment by
   80  sodomizing the boys, and
   81         WHEREAS, boys were asked sexually inappropriate questions
   82  by a school psychologist purportedly hired to counsel the boys,
   83  and
   84         WHEREAS, boys were sexually assaulted by a “school
   85  psychologist,” and
   86         WHEREAS, boys were sexually abused by school guards in an
   87  underground room called the “rape room,” and
   88         WHEREAS, the boys were threatened with their lives by the
   89  reform school personnel and told not to tell others of these
   90  abuses, and
   91         WHEREAS, one of the reform school administrators who is
   92  alleged to have beaten many of the children admitted under oath
   93  that boys were punished by taking them to the “White House,” and
   94         WHEREAS, this reform school administrator further admitted
   95  under oath that personnel would tell these boys to lie face down
   96  on a cot in an otherwise empty room and would have two or three
   97  boys from the kitchen hold down the boy being punished, and
   98         WHEREAS, the reform school administrator admitted under
   99  oath that he hit the boys with a thick leather razor strap that
  100  had a handle 8 to 10 times per infraction, that he at times
  101  witnessed bruises on their buttocks afterward, that the director
  102  of the school was always present during the “spankings,” that he
  103  witnessed the director and another employee at times giving the
  104  “spankings,” that boys could be given such punishment for
  105  infractions such as smoking, talking about running away, or
  106  having an “attitude problem,” and
  107         WHEREAS, the national guidelines for training school and
  108  juvenile agencies in the 1960s provided that corporal punishment
  109  should not be tolerated in any form, including slapping,
  110  spanking, paddling, belting, or any kind of abuse, and
  111         WHEREAS, Arthur G. Dozier, a former school superintendent,
  112  acknowledged the whippings in 1964 when Mr. Dozier stated to the
  113  press that although he did not like the whippings, he would not
  114  like to see the Legislature take away the right by completely
  115  forbidding whipping, and
  116         WHEREAS, the school in Marianna is currently named the
  117  Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, and
  118         WHEREAS, the reform schools were severely underfunded
  119  causing overcrowding, and
  120         WHEREAS, according to the national guidelines of the time,
  121  Marianna housed more than five times the number of children
  122  recommended for a state training school, and
  123         WHEREAS, the underfunding also resulted in inadequate
  124  supervision, and
  125         WHEREAS, according to the national guidelines of the time,
  126  Marianna employed an insufficient number of caseworkers, and
  127         WHEREAS, according to the national guidelines of the time,
  128  the Marianna school was understaffed in teachers, recreation
  129  workers, and psychologists, and
  130         WHEREAS, juvenile court judges who toured the school in
  131  1969 stated that conditions were dismal, without adequate
  132  facilities, without adequate staffing, and sexual perversion was
  133  common, and
  134         WHERREAS, one judge stated that he felt like a rat for
  135  sending boys to that place, that by sending boys to the training
  136  center they were doing damage as far as sexual problems were
  137  concerned, and that eventually he would like to see the place
  138  phased out, and
  139         WHEREAS, Governor Claude Kirk toured the school in 1968 and
  140  stated “If one of your kids were kept in such circumstances,
  141  you’d be up there with rifles,” and
  142         WHEREAS, Dr. Eugene Byrd, a psychologist and former staff
  143  employee, testified in 1958 before the United States Senate that
  144  the conditions and beatings of the boys that he witnessed
  145  amounted to “brutality,” and
  146         WHEREAS, a pattern of abuse at the reform schools has
  147  existed for more than 100 years: in 1903, investigators found
  148  children in shackles; in 1911, a report of a special joint
  149  committee on the reform school stated that the inmates were at
  150  times unnecessarily and brutally punished with a leather strap
  151  fastened to a wooden handle; and in 1914, at least 10 children
  152  died in a fire in the main building of the Marianna reform
  153  school where it was reported that all fire-escape doors were
  154  locked, and
  155         WHEREAS, similar abuses occurred at the reform schools
  156  located in Marianna and Okeechobee and were considered standard,
  157  accepted practice and procedure for administering discipline at
  158  the schools, and
  159         WHEREAS, these children suffered severe physical and
  160  psychological damages that have endured throughout their adult
  161  lives, including, but not limited to: severe depression; post
  162  traumatic stress disorder; persistent insomnia, including an
  163  inability to sleep in the dark for many years; substance abuse;
  164  phantom pain; relationship and economic hardships, including,
  165  but not limited to, an inability to maintain personal
  166  relationships causing multiple failed and broken marriages and
  167  families; violence; prison time; suicide; lack of trust; and an
  168  inability to maintain employment, NOW, THEREFORE,
  170  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
  172         Section 1. The sum of $ ...... is appropriated from the
  173  General Revenue Fund to the Department of Juvenile Justice for
  174  the relief of the victims who were abused while confined to the
  175  Florida Reform School for Boys in Marianna and Okeechobee and
  176  who sustained injuries and damages as a result of such abuses
  177  perpetrated by the personnel of the reform schools.
  178         Section 2. The Chief Financial Officer is directed to draw
  179  a warrant in favor of the victims who were abused while confined
  180  to the Florida Reform School for Boys in Marianna and Okeechobee
  181  in the sum of $ ...... upon funds in the State Treasury, and the
  182  Chief Financial Officer is directed to pay the same out of such
  183  funds in the State Treasury.
  184         Section 3. The Legislature is not deemed by this act to
  185  have waived any defense of sovereign immunity or to have
  186  increased the limits of liability on behalf of the state or any
  187  person or entity subject to the provisions of s. 768.28, Florida
  188  Statutes, or any other law.
  189         Section 4. The amount awarded under this act is intended to
  190  provide the sole compensation for all present and future claims
  191  arising out of the factual situation described in this act which
  192  resulted in injuries to the victims who were abused while
  193  confined to the Florida Reform School for Boys in Marianna and
  194  Okeechobee. The total amount paid for attorney’s fees, lobbying
  195  fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to this claim
  196  may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under this act.
  197         Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.