Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill into law allowing for the creation of memorials for boys who died from the abuse at the now-closed Dozier School for Boys as well as the abuse survivors.
Robert Straley, a former ward of the North Florida reform school, went there in his early teens. He says while there, he survived sexual abuse and severe beatings.
“At the Dozier School for Boys, they use whips on the boys like they use on slaves in the 1800s, and they got away with that for 68 years until Governor [Claude] Kirk stopped it in 1968,” he said. “They wouldn’t think nothing of giving a 10-year-old boy 60 lashes.”
Researchers later unearthed 55 buried remains on the Dozier grounds in Marianna. And, with the new law in effect, it will now allow for the reburial of the unclaimed remains as well as memorials in Tallahassee and Marianna—costing $1.2 million. It also opens the door for researchers to unearth even more remains.
Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature also passed a resolution formally apologizing for the abuses Straley and others suffered at the hands of staffers at Dozier and its sister campus in Okeechobee.
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