Legislature unanimously passes $20M compensation fund for Dozier school victims
Image via Colin Hackley.

'No amount of money or restitution can truly be enough for what these children endured.'

The boys who were sent to the “White House” will soon be eligible for up to $20 million in compensation from Florida for the abuse they suffered there, after the Senate passed HB 21.

The vote was unanimous, following the House’s unanimous vote last week. The measure will next head to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, located at Marianna, about an hour northwest of Tallahassee, opened in 1900 to house juvenile boys picked up for crimes as trivial as truancy and as grave as murder. At the school, many boys suffered sexual and physical abuse, even death. The school wasn’t shut down until 2011.

Starting in 2012, researchers at the University of South Florida discovered human remains and 55 unmarked graves at the site. Since the discovery, as many as 400 men have told of their abuse at the school at the hands of administrators.

In 2017, Florida lawmakers officially apologized to the victims, who called themselves the “White House Boys” after a structure on the property where much of the torture occurred.

But now a compensation fund will be set up for victims who attended the school between 1940 and 1975.

“No amount of money or restitution can truly be enough for what these children endured,” said Sen. Darryl Rouson, a Tampa Democrat who sponsored the bill. “This bill is fundamentally about the imperative to make right the past wrongs.”

The Department of Legal Affairs will set up a website and an application form for victims to seek compensation.

Boys who were sent to the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee are also eligible. That school opened in 1955 to account for overcrowding at the Dozier school. Applications must be received by Dec. 31, and all victims will receive the same amount, although how much that will be isn’t spelled out in the bill.

The bill also allows the state Board of Education to award a high school diploma to any victim who didn’t complete the graduation requirements.

Gray Rohrer

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 4, 2024 at 12:18 pm

    $20 million, 400 men, that’s $50,000 each.

    “Only $50K a pop? What a bargain,” Matt Gaetz might whisper to himself in wide eyed astonishment if he perhaps wanted to diddle some kids.

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