111 years of history ends
Hundreds jobless, offices close as state cuts take
By DEBORAH BUCKHALTER
Published: July 01, 2011
Dozier employees and members of the public gathered
outside the gate to watch as a library building
belonging to the Washington County school system
was removed Thursday. More than 180 employees
were officially laid off at Dozier Thursday.
Dozier’s closure Thursday became something of a spectator sport, as dozens of people gathered on the sides of the
road to watch a mover haul away a library building that belongs to the Washington County school system.
The school system is now taking back the building.
With all the inmates and most of the Dozier employees now gone, the structure would have sat unused and
deteriorating, just as the Department of Juvenile Justice-owned facilities on the property will stand empty and under
lock and key for the foreseeable future.
There had been threats of closure before. Legislators had lobbied to save Dozier more than once. But with the
current budget-slashing mood in Tallahassee, Dozier’s fate was sealed.
Facing millions in budget reductions, DJJ assessed its facilities and determined that Dozier was just too expensive to
run, at an operating cost of $14.3 million. Of that, $12.2 million went to salaries.
DJJ is also on a mission to reduce the number residential programs in favor of community-bases intervention efforts,
to head off trouble before juveniles end up needing confinement.
The closure leaves many out of work, even after the Chipola Workforce Board sent teams of helpers in to assist with
resume updates and job searches inside DJJ, at other agencies and in the private sector.
By the time Dozier officially shut down on Thursday, only a handful of the 186 displaced employees had found work
According to Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman C.J. Drake, 14 have found full-time employment, 10 have
temporary jobs, and six are retiring. Drake said in a phone interview about eight temporary staffers will remain on
campus for a period of time to finish managing the closure.
Drake said he didn’t know how long the eight would remain there boxing up materials, performing close-out
maintenance tasks and other duties.
Attempts by the Floridan to speak with the crowd watching at the gates Thursday were met with resistance from DJJ
officials, who said the Floridan reporter could not talk to the employees.
The 63 young people living at Dozier were all moved out of the facility two or three weeks ago, and many of the 185
workers had been taking some of their leave time, although some worked through the last day.
Drake said talks are continuing with the Department of Corrections about that agency possibly using the campus for
one of its programs, but no decisions have been made.
He said he knew of no discussions with businesses or non-profits about any possible lease arrangements, and said
the 111-year-old campus will no longer serve any juvenile justice function.
The employees of Dozier are not the only state workers who were laid off in this part of the state. Florida State
Hospital made deep cuts as well and is privatizing some services. The Florida Highway Patrol shut its Marianna
office. State budget cuts forced the school system to not renew 20 teaching positions. And the fear of cutbacks in
the Department of Corrections is ever present.
Anticipating a significant increase in the need for services at the Marianna One-Stop job services center, the Chipola
Workforce Board is sending a mobile office to augment services on two days this month. The mobile unit will be in
Marianna on July 5-6 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at 4636 U.S. Highway 90, Suite E, in Marianna. The phone number is
People are also encouraged to use the online resources available, such as www.employflorida.com.