Florida Senate - 2017                        COMMITTEE AMENDMENT
       Bill No. SR 1440
                              LEGISLATIVE ACTION                        
                    Senate             .             House              
                  Comm: RCS            .                                
                  04/04/2017           .                                

       The Committee on Judiciary (Rouson) recommended the following:
    1         Senate Amendment (with title amendment)
    3         Delete everything after the resolving clause
    4  and insert:
    5         That the Senate regrets that the treatment of boys who were
    6  sent to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Okeechobee
    7  School was cruel, unjust, and a violation of human decency, and
    8  acknowledges this shameful part of the State of Florida’s
    9  history.
   10         BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate apologizes to the
   11  boys who were confined to Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and
   12  the Okeechobee School and their family members for the wrongs
   13  committed against them by employees of the State of Florida.
   14         BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate expresses its
   15  commitment to ensuring that children who have been placed in the
   16  State of Florida’s care are protected from abuse and violations
   17  of fundamental human decency.
   19  ================= T I T L E  A M E N D M E N T ================
   20  And the title is amended as follows:
   21         Delete everything before the resolving clause
   22  and insert:
   23                          Senate Resolution                        
   24         A resolution acknowledging the abuses experienced by
   25         children confined in the Arthur G. Dozier School for
   26         Boys and the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee and
   27         expressing the Senate’s regret for such abuses and its
   28         commitment to ensure that the children of this state
   29         are protected from the abuses and violations of
   30         fundamental human decency.
   32         WHEREAS, the Florida State Reform School, also called the
   33  Florida Industrial School for Boys and later known as the Arthur
   34  G. Dozier School for Boys, referred to in this resolution as
   35  “Dozier School,” was opened by the State of Florida in 1900 in
   36  Marianna to house children who had committed minor criminal
   37  offenses, such as incorrigibility, truancy, and smoking, as well
   38  as more serious offenses such as theft and murder, and
   39         WHEREAS, many of the children who were sent to Dozier
   40  School were sentenced without legal representation before the
   41  court, often without a known basis for being sent to the school
   42  or a specific duration of confinement, and
   43         WHEREAS, within the first 13 years of Dozier School’s
   44  operation, six state-led investigations were conducted in
   45  response to reports of children being chained to walls in irons,
   46  severely beaten, and used for child labor, and
   47         WHEREAS, throughout Dozier School’s history, reports of
   48  abuse, suspicious deaths, and threats of closure plagued the
   49  school, and
   50         WHEREAS, many former students of Dozier School have sworn
   51  under oath that they were beaten at a facility located on the
   52  school grounds known as the “White House,” and
   53         WHEREAS, a psychologist employed at Dozier School testified
   54  under oath at a 1958 United States Senate Judiciary Committee
   55  hearing that boys at the school were beaten by an administrator,
   56  that the blows were severe and dealt with a great deal of force
   57  with a full arm swing over the head and down, that a leather
   58  strap approximately ten inches long was used, and that the
   59  beatings were “brutality,” and
   60         WHEREAS, a former Dozier School employee stated in
   61  interviews with law enforcement that, in 1962, several employees
   62  of the school were removed from the facility based upon
   63  allegations that they made sexual advances toward boys at the
   64  facility, and
   65         WHEREAS, a forensic investigation funded by the Florida
   66  Legislature and conducted from 2013 to 2016 by the University of
   67  South Florida found incomplete records regarding deaths and
   68  burials that occurred at Dozier School between 1900 and 1960,
   69  and that families were often notified after the child was buried
   70  or denied access to their remains at the time of burial, and
   71         WHEREAS, the excavations conducted as part of the forensic
   72  investigation yielded 55 burial sites, 24 more sites than
   73  reported in official records, and
   74         WHEREAS, given the lack of documentation and contradictions
   75  in the historical record, questions persist regarding the
   76  identity of persons buried at Dozier School and the
   77  circumstances surrounding their deaths, and
   78         WHEREAS, in 1955, the State of Florida opened a new reform
   79  school in Okeechobee, called the Florida School for Boys at
   80  Okeechobee, referred to in this resolution as “the Okeechobee
   81  School,” to address overcrowding at Dozier School, and staff of
   82  Dozier School were transferred to the Okeechobee School where
   83  similar practices were implemented, and
   84         WHEREAS, many former students of the Okeechobee School have
   85  sworn under oath that they were beaten at a facility on school
   86  grounds known as the “Adjustment Unit,” and
   87         WHEREAS, former Governor Claude Kirk toured Dozier School
   88  in 1968 and stated, “If one of your kids were kept in such
   89  circumstances, you’d be up there with rifles,” and
   90         WHEREAS, Dozier School was closed in 2011 after
   91  investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and
   92  the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of
   93  Justice, and
   94         WHEREAS, more than 500 former students of Dozier School and
   95  the Okeechobee School have come forward with reports of
   96  physical, mental, and sexual abuse by school staff during the
   97  1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, and resulting trauma that has endured
   98  throughout their adult lives; NOW THEREFORE,