Robert Straley, one of the few survivors of a group known as the ‘White House Boys,’ has deemed the appalling atrocities of Dozier Reform School (really, Dozier Youth Prison) ‘the worst case of child abuse in American City!’ Those of us who are just getting wind of this harrowing horror story are beginning to fathom the authenticity of what Robert Straley is testament to, although another side of us utters in our ear: “Is this John Carpenter’s newest horror flick?”
No it isn’t, this is historical; this is a weathered slice of journalism that slowly emerges from a grave of hush-up and oppression, a throw-back to the Old South, when blacks and whites were separated, and more importantly, when good and bad kids were completely segregated from one another. I’m thinking, in the minds of these demented Youth Prison Administrators (and their underling henchman guards), this unspoken social demarcation line (between good kids and bad kids) gave them open license to commit these abuses.
The White House is where these leather strap beatings took place; some boys never returned to their dormitory, while others survived and are finally speaking out about the Hell House, known as Dozier Reform School, whose abandoned shell of ruins and makeshift grave markers is located in Marianna (northern-most, central Florida). This reform school, created exclusively to separate the perceived ‘rotten apples of society’ has a history going back all the way to 1900. That’s 112 years, has this insanity, this socially sanctioned criminal behavior, been going on ever since then?
As shocking as it appears, I believe it is true! Naturally, Dozier didn’t keep very good records, or the records they did keep must have been falsified, in order to cover up what they were really all about, which is starting to resemble more a Nazi Concentration Camp, where they could freely torture boys who had been condemned by the ‘powers that be;’ a small group of authoritative individuals which local historical documents can probably identify.
I assume, the trouble of what transpired at this haunted reform school, for more than a hundred years, will see the light of day, now that so many educated people are getting involved, such as the USF anthropology professor, Erin Kimmerle, who has discovered verifiable evidence of a second, hidden cemetery on the south side of the campus (where the white kids were buried, which is in keeping with the segregated traditions in place after The Civil War, actually). Hopefully, more historians, journalists, and private investigators will begin probes that will uncover these ills, which we would prefer to forget forever.
Yet we can’t do that, it would be irresponsible of us! And yet, I have to ask, how could these reform school administrators have gotten away with this travesty for so many years? 112 years is a long time to commit publicly sanctioned ‘social crimes’ (well, here’s the oxymoron right here!) and get away with it, scott free! And another question that comes to mind, is why didn’t the family’s request that the remains of their beloved children be returned to them, after they learned of their untimely demise? I suspect it was out of fear of this institution, since it was the State of Florida!
It’s good that at least the facts of one case has been exposed to clear air. This is the shocker of Owen Smith, who was shot to death at Dozier by guards (in 1940), perhaps as he attempted to flee from these possessed henchmen, who he probably suspected were dead set on killing him anyhow. Witnesses saw the shooting, so we know it’s real, Owen Smith (who aspired to be a musician) was murdered by this demented institution. But how many other kids were killed by these twisted people, who worked for this ‘reform school?’ More investigative research must proceed immediately!
Source: Miami Herald