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. 10 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, 169 170 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 171 172 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.