Our Opinion: Memories of state abuse can't be erased
October 23, 2008
In the 1950s and '60s, the Florida State Reform School in Marianna, where many young male offenders wound up,
had a notorious reputation. Backyard scuttlebutt, especially among teenagers, is often wildly exaggerated, so the
tales of terrible beatings were easily dismissed. After all, they came from young men whose credibility was
unreliable to begin with.
They weren't exaggerating.
In an emotional ceremony Tuesday on the grounds of the institution now known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for
Boys, the Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversees the facility, acknowledged the horrific abuse.
"In memory of the children who passed through these doors, we acknowledge their tribulations and offer our hope
that they found some measure of peace. May this building stand as a reminder of the need to remain vigilant in
protecting our children as we help them seek a brighter future."
It is rare for a government agency to acknowledge even errors of policy, but more rare to acknowledge such dire
human behavior stemming from judgments that one can only assume started from the top. This week's
acknowledgment improves the credibility of DJJ, of course, and the public can only hope that such horrors are now
truly part of the past.
THE SEALING OF THE "WHITE HOUSE" PUNISHMENT ROOM OCTOBER 21, 2008
From Left: Dick Colon, Michael O'McCarthy, Roger Kiser, Bill Haynes, Robert Straley
O.J. Keller who finally banished the whip in 1968 under the Claude Kirk administration