EXCERPT FROM THE COURT DOCUMENT:
At the age of 14 , Davidson James was sent to the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. For the first time
in his life, Davidson came into contact with male authority figures, in an institution known for its inadequate
staffing, for its policy of segregation, which not only separated black children from white children, but which also
provided white children with significantly more services than it provided black children,and for it's brutality.
Davidson was at th e Dozier School from December 3, 1962, until December 18, 1963, and again from
September 17, 1964, until September 28, 1965. (App. 12).The Dozier school, like many juvenile institutions, was
overcrowded and understaffed. The reault of this situation is that a child like Davidson, desperately in
need of attention and counseling, is nothing more than part of a large "herd", according to Oliver
Keller, a former superintendent of the Dozier School:
The very size of most training schools is at odds with treatment. The larger the institution, the more routinized it
becomes. Delinquent children, who need attention and human contact desperately, do not receive the
care they need in institutions. Congregate living is impersonal and anonymous. The mass herding of children
from one building to another is not conducive to treatment.
In large institutions the delinquent subculture of the inmates is at odda with staff goals. Even when some
children want to 'do right,' other stronger inmates can discourage and threaten them. In most
institutions the bullies among the inmates really 'run' the cottages. They pressure weaker boys for sex
, cigarettes, commissary items, and parcels from home. Change in delinquent attitudes are minimal in
institutions. Not only does the delinquent subculture work against staff efforts, but eufficient numbers of clinical
people are rarely available.
(Oliver Keller, in James, Children in Trouble, 1969, pp. 172-3, App. 13).
Lenox Williams, who first came to Dozier in 1960,reports that in the 1960 ' Dozier was continually
plagued by a lack of resources:
"We have never had enough resources to work with in order to accomplish t h e things that really need t o
be done at t h e school. In m y early years there, this shortage of funds could be seen in the most basic areas
such as the lack of textbooks t o teach t h e kids from. W e even had to manufacture our own materials from
Andrew Bowers, a chaplin at the school from 1959-1963 recalls:
For most of its history, Dozier freely practiced flogging as a method of discipline, or as a matter of whim.
Mr. Bowers remembers, "they would spank the boys when they did wrong or really whenever they
wanted to. Some of them they treated pretty bad, they couldn't sit down for days."
Many beatings were bad. Sometimes they'd spank the children until they would have to lay on their stomachs for
two or three days.
The beatings were administered with a "weighted leather 'flogging strap." A witness to a flogging
described them as "sickening" :
A young boy [was] taken into a stark, bare, dimly lit room where he was compelled to lie on a small cot and
receive licks with a heavy leather strap. At the time the strap was being wielded by a man who was at
least six feet, three inches and weighed well over two hundred pounds. . . . The child quivers and
writhes. . . .
Another witness saw a child returning from a flogging and "bleeding profusely." Floggings were not
"officially" discontinued until 1968.
Ultimately, the crowded conditions, lack of staff and facilities, and beatings do nothing but return a child to society
in worse condition than when he entered the institution:
"We are working in a terribly primitive field. Primitive. Punitive. Brutal. I don't like large institutions. I don't like what
happens to children in them. One of my men says living in a training achool is as cozy as living in a wash bay of a
filling station. I agree. The child is returned to t he streets with none of his family problems solved. And he's more
sophisticated in crime."
After he left Dozier in 1965, Davidson returned to his family in Bradenton and attempted to continue school. the
1965-66 achool year, doing poorly in most of his classes. At the end of the year, he left school and never
returned. (App. 6). He attempted to work, once going with Betty Lou Shaw to Maryland to work in the fields, but
found no stable Employment.