Dozier to Close
May 31, 2011 8:48 AM
Associated Press

Dozier School for Boys will close June 30, staff at the facility were told this morning.

Several officials met with the nearly 200 staff members of the Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Marianna to
break the news to them.

The facility recently went through a number of changes, including a move into new facilities, a new director and a
new name.

The 185 employees at the North Florida Youth Development Center — formerly called the Arthur G. Dozier School
for Boys — were informed Thursday that the Department of Juvenile Justice was closing the school and moving its
63 detainees to other facilities, the department's secretary, Wansley Walters, told the St. Petersburg Times.

The 111-year-old school in Marianna, about 60 miles west of Tallahassee, was once the largest reform school in the
country with 698 students.

Then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008 ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate allegations by
former students from the 1950s and 1960s that staff abused them and other inmates in a building called "The White
House."

In a final report released last year, investigators said they were unable to substantiate or refute those claims. A letter
from a prosecutor issued along with the investigators' report said there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone
with a crime.

Cuts in the Department of Juvenile Justice's residential services budget as the agency shifts money to services such
as prevention and electronic monitoring led to the closure, officials said.

The school was plagued by scandal soon after opening in 1900. Three years later, investigators found children "in
irons, just as common criminals."

In 1914, six boys and two staff members died after they were trapped in a burning dormitory.

During a visit in 1968, when corporal punishment was outlawed in state-run institutions, then-Gov. Claude Kirk found
holes in the leaking ceilings and broken walls, bucket toilets, bunk beds crammed together to accommodate
overcrowding and no heat in the winter.

In recent years, the school failed two annual evaluations.