Page 5 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - Sept. / Oct. 2017 Edition
P. 5

Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, Florida 5

            Archaeologists Finally

         Know What Happened at

        This Brutal Reform School

         The Florida School for Boys did
            anything but rehabilitate its

                by ERIN BLACKMORE

        any of the human remains found at the Arthur G.
        Dozier School for Boys, Florida’s first juvenile
        detention center for boys, were buried over a
        century ago. But questions about their
        identities—and what exactly happened at this
        notorious school—have remained alive
        throughout the center’s brutal history.  Who is
        buried in the school’s many graves, and how did
        they die?
                                                        physical   evidence”    supported    multiple
               Now, thanks to a new report by                                                              Now Available from The History Press
                                                        allegations of rapes and other sexual assaults.
        archaeologists and forensic anthropologists
                                                        Eventually, the school closed in 2011 after a
        from the University of South Florida, some                                                                 Eerie Florida
                                                        Department of Justice investigation found
        answers have finally emerged. NPR’s Laura
                                                        ongoing excessive force, compromised safety
        Wagner writes that an investigation of the
                                                        and a lack of services at the school.
        Marianna, Florida institution, which only closed
                                                               A history of education in Florida
        in 2011, has revealed scores of marked and
                                                        published in 1921 called the institute “a real
        unmarked graves and sets of remains. In the
                                                        reclamation school for delinquent boys,” but
        report, researchers discuss work that revealed 55
                                                        hundreds died during their time at the facility.
        on-site graves and 51 sets of remains. Using the
                                                        The new report found that between 1900 and
        remains they did find on site, they made seven
                                                        1973, over 100 boys died at the Dozier school.
        DNA identifications and 14 other presumptive
                                                        The 1400-acre school was the site not only of a
                                                        cemetery, but also of a number of unmarked
               The report is the final step in a four-year
                                                        graves.  The investigation revealed that the
        process of excavation and archaeological
                                                        school underreported deaths, including those
        exploration at the school. The detention center
                                                        that occurred for reasons like gunshot wounds
        opened in 1897 and was initially run by
                                                        and blunt trauma. Other deaths took place due to
        governor-appointed commissioners, but the
                                                        things like fire and influenza.
        governor and cabinet of Florida later took
                                                               Many of the unmarked burial sites
                                                        studied are thought to be of black students, who
               Its original mandate within Florida state
                                                        were segregated at the school. The team found       The dark side of the Sunshine State
        statutes was to act as “not simply a place of
        correction, but a reform school, where the young  that three times as many black students died and
                                                        were buried at Dozier than white students, and
        offender of the law, separated from vicious
                                                        that some of those boys were incarcerated for     •  Most know Florida as the land of endless
        associates, may receive careful physical,
                                                        non-criminal charges like running away and          sunny beaches, but the state is home to
        intellectual and moral training." The boys were
                                                        incorrigibility. Black boys were less likely to be  numerous eerie legends and mysterious
        to to be restored as honorable citizens that
                                                        named in historical records, as well, reflecting    creatures.
        contribute to society.
                                                        the grim realities of reform school life in the
                                                        segregated South.                                 •  The Everglades is home to the elusive
        But that mandate quickly proved false for the
                                                               Reform schools for youth found guilty of     Skunk  Ape, a strange bipedal creature
        school’s inmates. Rather than a place for
        rehabilitation, the school became a site of     crimes ranging from murder to profanity and         recognized by its odor.
                                                        “incorrigibility” were common at the turn of the
        horrific abuse. Between 1903 and 1913, write
                                                        century. A 1910 census of juvenile crimes shows   •  An uncanny doll reputed to have a life of
        the USF team, a series of investigations found
                                                        that the Florida school was just one of hundreds    its own greets visitors in a Florida Keys
        some of the school’s children shackled in chains,
                                                        across the country.  That year, 72 children per     museum.
        denied food and clothing, hired out to other
                                                        100,000 were institutionalized for crimes.
        people to work, and beaten. The youngest were
                                                        Though that number is lower than today’s rate of  •  An ancient monster is reported to roam
        just five years old.
                                                        173 juveniles per 100,000, the population was       the rivers in the northeast corners of the
               Abuses continued over the next century.
                                                        only 92 million—28 percent of today’s               state.
        A group of former students eventually formed
        who called themselves the “White House Boys”    population of about 322 million.
                                                               The new report does not allege any         •  In South Florida a man built “America’s
        after a blood-covered building where beatings
                                                        criminal wrongdoing at the Florida school—it        Stonehenge” via mysterious means.
        were administered.  The group provided a
                                                        only talks about finding and identifying bodies.
        support system and a way for the men to share
                                                        The team writes in a release that it will push for  Join Mark Muncy and Kari Schultz as they
        their stories.
                                                        a plan for burying unidentified children,        uncover the history behind the state's
               The  White House Boys were among a
                                                        restoring remains to families and locating       creepiest stories and unusual locations.
        group of 100 former students who took part in a
                                                        surviving family members of the dead. Perhaps
        2010 investigation that found that corporal
                                                        now that more is known about life and death at
        punishment including paddling and beating was
        common at the school. Even so, no “tangible     the school, restitution and restorative justice can
                                                        begin. []
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10