The Florida Reform School for Boys was established in 1900 and lasted until 2011. By then it was known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. Governor Rick Scott closed it as a federal investigation was bearing down because it had become too expensive to operate.
Afterward closure, a gravesite was reported to the public. What was thought to be 33 graves revealed 55 sets of remains, unearthed by the tediously by the dedication hands of USF’s forensic anthroplogy department under the direction of Dr. Erin Kimmerle.
In response to the USF findings and at the request of the Florida NAACP legislative affairs office, the Council has convened the Interfaith Commission for Florida’s Children and Youth. Our mission has been to reflect upon the proper means to memorialize the children who were killed at the school and remember their stories so that such atrocities may not happen again.
During the 2016 Florida Legistlative session, a bill was past and later signed by the governor to set up an inter-agency commission to develop a proposal for an appropriate memorial and resting place for any unidentified remains and to provide burial funds for those children whose remains are identified. The Florida Council of Churches along with the NAACP are the two non-state agencies serving on the inter-agency commission.
For the full history as USF has developed it, please see: http://guides.lib.usf.edu/dozier.
In the Dozier story lies the history of juvenile justice and the need for reform. May Floridians commit to treating at risk and vulnerable youth with justice and compassion.
The school campus was divided into black and white sections. The photo above shows the lodging for African American youth left to rot in the sun. Most of the remains discovered are of African descent youth.