U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says Florida should officially apologize to Dozier victims

Published January 22 2016
Updated January 23 2016

TAMPA — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday that the state of Florida should issue an official apology to the victims of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, where students were beaten and died, many buried without identification.

"They and all the families of the ones that we know about and those that we don't know about, they deserve not only an apology, they deserve the heartfelt, enormous grief that we should feel about this chapter of our Florida history," he said during a news conference Friday at his office in the Sam M. Gibbons Federal Courthouse in Tampa.

University of South Florida anthropologist Erin Kimmerle is leading a team that has unearthed and identified several bodies on the property of the state reform school outside Marianna. She sat next to Nelson as the two discussed the details of the investigation that were presented to Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet on Thursday in Tallahassee.

Fifty-one sets of remains from decades-old deaths and burials were found on the property. There have been seven positive DNA matches and 14 presumptive identifications.

Nelson said he will be sending a copy of Kimmerle's report to the Justice Department.

"I think a lesson of this for us is it should never happen again," Nelson said.