Florida Senate - 2017 (NP) SR 1440 By Senator Rouson 19-01412-17 20171440__ 1 Senate Resolution 2 A resolution acknowledging the abuses experienced by 3 children confined in the Arthur G. Dozier School for 4 Boys and expressing the Legislature’s regret for such 5 abuses and the commitment to ensure that the children 6 of the State of Florida are protected from the abuses 7 and violations that took place at such facility. 8 9 WHEREAS, the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, or the 10 Dozier School for Boys, had campuses in Marianna and Okeechobee, 11 Florida, and was operated by the State of Florida from 1900 12 until 2011, when the school closed after allegations of abuse 13 were confirmed in separate investigations by the Department of 14 Law Enforcement in 2010 and the Civil Rights Division of the 15 United States Department of Justice in 2011, and 16 WHEREAS, the state and federal investigations revealed that 17 many of the boys who had been sent to the Dozier School for Boys 18 reported credible instances of being physically, 19 psychologically, and sexually abused by staff members at the 20 school, and 21 WHEREAS, many of the boys who had been sent to the Dozier 22 School for Boys were sent for minor offenses such as truancy, 23 incorrigibility, or smoking, and 24 WHEREAS, many of the boys were not given a trial before 25 being sent by the State of Florida to the Dozier School for 26 Boys, and 27 WHEREAS, many of the boys were beaten at a facility known 28 as the “White House” at the Dozier School for Boys, and 29 WHEREAS, at least one of the Dozier School for Boys 30 administrators has testified under oath that the boys who were 31 taken to the White House were told to lie face down on a cot in 32 an otherwise empty room, that at times two or three other boys 33 would hold down the boy being punished, that the administrator 34 hit the boys with a thick leather razor strap with a handle 35 eight to ten times per infraction, that at times he witnessed 36 bruises on the boys’ buttocks afterward, that the director of 37 the school was always present during the beatings, and that the 38 beatings could be given as punishment for such infractions as 39 smoking, talking about running away, or having an attitude 40 problem, and 41 WHEREAS, the beatings in the Okeechobee facility of the 42 Dozier School for Boys included strikes with leather straps that 43 had quarters or dimes embedded in the leather to provide extra 44 weight, and assaults using probing rods that were made of wood, 45 and 46 WHEREAS, boys were placed in isolation for extended 47 periods, deemed as an “egregious and dangerous practice” by the 48 2011 United States Department of Justice Report on the Dozier 49 School for Boys, and 50 WHEREAS, abuses occurring at the Marianna and Okeechobee 51 campuses of the Dozier School for Boys were considered the 52 standard, accepted practice and procedure for administering 53 discipline at the school, and 54 WHEREAS, former Governor Claude Kirk toured the school in 55 1968 and stated, “If one of your kids were kept in such 56 circumstances, you’d be up there with rifles,” and 57 WHEREAS, a forensic investigation funded by the Legislature 58 and conducted by the University of South Florida from 2013 to 59 2016 found that there are no records of the locations of burial 60 of the children who died at the Dozier School for Boys and that 61 families were often denied access to their child’s remains at 62 the time of burial or notified of their child’s death only after 63 the child was buried, and 64 WHEREAS, exhumations of bodies began in 2013, and the 65 excavations yielded 55 burial sites, 24 more sites than reported 66 in official records, and 67 WHEREAS, many questions persist about who is buried at the 68 Dozier School for Boys and the circumstances surrounding the 69 children’s deaths, and 70 WHEREAS, more than 500 former students of the Dozier School 71 for Boys have come forward alleging physical, mental, and sexual 72 abuses from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, and 73 WHEREAS, the survivors of these abuses have suffered severe 74 physical and psychological damages that have endured throughout 75 their adult lives, NOW, THEREFORE, 76 77 Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of Florida: 78 79 That the Senate acknowledges that the treatment of the boys 80 who were sent to the Dozier School for Boys was cruel and 81 unjust, a violation of human decency toward the individuals who 82 had been placed in the state’s care. 83 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate acknowledges that 84 the operation of the Dozier School for Boys, including the 85 physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of children confined to 86 the facilities, is a shameful part of the history of the State 87 of Florida. 88 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate regrets that 89 children of this state were subjected to the cruelty and abuse 90 that have come to light in recent years and the State of Florida 91 apologizes to the boys sent to the Dozier School for Boys and 92 their family members for the wrongs committed against them 93 during the 111-year operation of the school. 94 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Senate expresses its 95 commitment to ensure that the children of Florida are protected 96 from the kind of abuse and violation of fundamental human 97 decency that previously took place at a facility operated by 98 employees of the State of Florida.