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Proposed Legislation Could Help Victims Of Abuse At Two Florida Reform Schools

Researchers searching for possible human remains at Dozier School for Boys
University of South Florida
/
University of South Florida
Researchers searching for possible human remains at Dozier School for Boys

A Senate Democrat filed a proposal Thursday that could help lead to compensation for victims of abuse at two state reform schools decades ago.

The bill (SB 288), filed by Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, would create a certification process for victims of abuse at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee.

The bill would apply to people who were at the reform schools from 1940 to 1975. People certified as victims could file claims under a section of state law that provides assistance to victims, according to the bill.

The now-shuttered Dozier school, which opened in 1900 in Marianna, has drawn heavy attention in recent years amid research into graves on the site and disclosures about abuse. The bill said the Okeechobee school opened in 1955 and also was the site of physical, mental and sexual abuse.

The Legislature in 2017 offered a formal apology to those who had been abused at the schools. Rouson’s bill is filed for the 2021 legislative session, which will start in March.