Florida Reform School For Boys At Marianna
|Florida Reform School For Boys At Marianna|
|Building Style||Cottage Plan|
The school was first organized under an 1897 act of the legislature and began operations on the Marianna campus on January 1, 1900, as the Florida State Reform School, under the control of five commissioners appointed by the governor, who were to operate the school and make biennial reports to the legislature. At some time thereafter, the commissioners were replaced by the governor and cabinet of Florida, acting as the Board of Commissioners of State Institutions. In 1903, an inspection reported that children at the school were commonly kept in leg irons. In 1914, the name was changed to the Florida Industrial School for Boys and in 1957 to the Florida School for Boys. In 1903, an inspection reported that children at the school were commonly kept in leg irons. A fire in a dormitory at the school in 1914 killed six inmates and two staff members. A 13-year-old boy sent to the school in 1934 for "trespassing" died 38 days after arriving there.
In 1955, the Okeechobee campus opened. In 1967, the name of the Marianna campus was changed to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, in honor of a former superintendent of the school. Lawsuits concerning the school led to federal control of Florida's juvenile justice system from 1987 onward.
By 1985, it emerged that young ex-inmates of the school, sentenced to jail terms for crimes committed while there, had subsequently been the victims of torture at the Jackson County jail. The method of torture was for the prison guards to handcuff the teenagers and then hang them from the bars of their cells, sometimes for over an hour. The guards stated that their superiors approved the practice and that it was routine.
In 1994, the school was placed under the management of the newly created Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, which operated the school until its closure in 2011. By this time, the school had facilities to house 135 inmates, and many of the boys sent there had been convicted of rape or of committing "lewd acts on other children." In July 2010, the state announced its plan to merge Dozier with JJOC, creating a single new facility, the North Florida Youth Development Center, with an open campus and a closed campus. However, the following year, claiming "budgetary limitations," the state decided to close both facilities on June 30, 2011; remaining students were sent to other juvenile justice facilities around the state.
At least 96 boys, the youngest 6 years old, and two adults died between 1914 and 1973 at Florida’s school for troubled boys. The cemetery was active from about 1914 to 1952. Since death certificates were not required prior to 1917 and subsequent records are not complete, it is not known how many people are interred here. State Investigators believe at least 81 are buried here and at another location about 500 yards to the north. 31 metal crosses were erected at this location near extant shallow indentations in the ground in 1996 to replace concrete/rebar crosses from the 1960's that had been removed and stored near the site. State and school records show that out of nearly 100 children who died while at the school, there are no burial records for 22 of them. In 2013 the Florida legislature approved the exhumation of 34 bodies known to be buried at the Dozier's Boot Hill Cemetery and hoped to find the remains of as many as 98 children who were reported missing in reform school records over its 111-year history.