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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Victims of shuttered Dozier school get some closure before Florida Cabinet



After more than an hour of gut-wrenching testimony filled with tales of beatings and death, the state is no closer to knowing what to do with a shuttered reform school in North Florida where University of South Florida researchers have recovered dozens of human remains.

Still, those who survived their stay at the state-run Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys outside Marianna said Thursday's meeting before Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet gave them some closure. Jerry Cooper, one of a half-dozen survivors of the reformatory school to speak to the Cabinet, said knowing that the government is listening to them and finally believing the horrors they went through means a lot.

"I've waited 50 years for this," said Cooper, a Cape Coral man who as a 16-year-old endured ruthless beatings at the school in the 1960s. "I have faith they will do the right thing."

But members of the Cabinet did more than listen to Cooper and others who have been dubbed "The White House Boys," referring to an infamous detention building where beatings occurred. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said what happened at the school is unconscionable and should never be forgotten.

"I'm very sorry for what these men and generations of boys endured while wards of the state," Putnam said.

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[Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2016 8:34pm]


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