Budget Cuts Force Jackson Co. Juvenile Detention Facility to Close

Marianna- On Thursday, budget cuts finally caught up with the controversial Dozier School for Boys in Marianna,
which has been open for more than a century.

Reporter: Bryan Anderson
Email Address: Bryan.Anderson@wjhg.com


Marianna- On Thursday, budget cuts finally caught up with the controversial Dozier School for Boys in Marianna,
which has been open for more than a century. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced it will close the
detention facility, cutting 185 jobs. Over its 111-year history, the school has had its share of controversy. The most
recent came from a group of men who call themselves, “The White House Boys,” named after a small white cinder
block building where they claim they were whipped and beaten while confined at Dozier in the 1950's and 60's.

One of the “White House Boys” applauded the state's decision to shut down the school. “I was relieved. It's been
three years of a long, hard struggle to see this come to an end. That place should never be opened again for
anybody for any reason, not even adults because there's been so much evil there that i don't think it would ever
stop," said Robert Straley, member of the “White House Boys.”

The history of abuse allegations may have played a role in Dozier's closing, but the main reason is money. The
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is losing 67 million dollars. It costs about 14 million a year to operate Dozier,
and that includes the salaries for 185 teachers and administrators, who will soon be out of a job.

"We had a meeting today with all the employees at the facility, and there were representatives from the local
workforce board, who have begun to implement a plan to identify potential employment opportunities for them. And
we're also going to be holding jobs fairs there this week and next so employees can attend and learn of the options
they have," said C.J. Drake, from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

While the state will save money, Jackson County officials said Dozier's closing will damage the local economy.
"Whenever you see our government making the decision to devastate the lives of hundreds of families here in
Jackson County, we find it even more upsetting. Not only are we losing those paychecks, but of course we lose the
snowball effect to the economies in our small communities," said Jeremy Branch, Jackson County Commissioner.

Dozier school will officially close its doors by the end of this fiscal year on June 30th. As for the juveniles detained
there, they'll be transferred to other state facilities in a matter of weeks. The state does not know what it will do with
the facility and surrounding property.