Excavation of Graves Begins at Former Reform School
Ex-inmates at Florida facility say abuse needs to be investigated
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 31, 2013 10:15 AM CDT
Mike McCarthy recalls his time spent as an inmate at the Arthur G. Dozier reform school in Marianna, Florida, during ceremonies dedicating a memorial to the suffering of the boys in 2008.   (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

(Newser) – University of South Florida researchers will begin exhuming dozens of graves today at a former reform school in hopes of identifying the buried boys and learning how they died. Former inmates from the 1950s and 1960s have detailed horrific beatings that took place in a small, white concrete block building at the facility in Marianna. A group of survivors call themselves the "White House Boys" and have long pressed for investigations into the graves. In 2010, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement ended an investigation and said it could not substantiate or refute claims that boys died at the hands of staff.

USF later began its own research and discovered even more graves than the state department had identified. USF has worked for months to secure a permit to exhume the remains, finally receiving permission from Gov. Rick Scott. A spokesman for the White House Boys said the school segregated white and black inmates and that the remains are located where black inmates were held. He suspects there is another white cemetery that hasn't been discovered. "I think that there are at least 100 more bodies up there," he said. "At some point they are going to find more bodies, I'm dead certain of that. There has to be a white graveyard on the white side."

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Sep 1, 2013 3:52 PM CDT
Anyone remember the movie "Sleepers" with Kevin Bacon portraying the juvenile reform school guard? Remember how good you felt at the end?
Sep 1, 2013 5:01 AM CDT
In reply to B-Diddy replies... This is an absolute outrage, and no sane person would ever choose being locked up than being free- usually. I don't necessarily agree with the eye for an eye strategy, or inflicting pain on the Innocent families of the beasts (this solves what exactly other than making an innocent suffer for the crimes of another they probably had no control over/even knew about??? talk about irrational revenge) but I do defend B-Diddy's right to make the point, and it is taxpayer's money that keeps most of these places running. The truth is, the system in some countries being so savage and prejudice-filled (US included), some inmates end up committing crimes once released just to be put back in prison / institutionalized. The reason for this not being because they loved their stay and their inmate buddies, but because not having any prospects in the real world with their criminal records (or at times a lifetime of psychiatric admissions) they are unable to rejoin society, struggling to find work and home, and end up homeless on the streets, without what you all mocked as cushy luxuries of being fed, with a roof over their head and extremely basic human medical care. As for this particular reform school (and others of that time, as well as some correctional facilities today) it's a travesty, and I agree this investigation should go deep and get nasty, condemning all involved for the abuse inflicted, in one way or another, senile or half dead as the surviving victims and authority-abusing personnel might now be. Justice might not have been served when it might've made a difference, and nothing can be done about that now, but it's never too late to do SOMETHING (think the court in Hague and Nazi crime perpetrators) Something IS, ALWAYS, better than nothing- and some closure for those who ARE still alive and suffered through the abuse might make all the difference in Their life today.
Aug 31, 2013 4:22 PM CDT
When I was growing up, there were always LOTS of rumors from teens about the juvenile reform school at Booneville, Mo. All sorts of horror stories. The adults just shrugged and said that was what the kids deserved. These are throwaway kids that no one gives a shit about. That is why there can be such callous abuse with no response from officials or the public.