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  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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A fight to recover

tampabay.com photo gallery

The long window next to Justin Gaertner's bed, hazy from the cold outside, was dotted with holiday ornament stickers, a stocking and photos from home: his two younger siblings, a neighbor kissing his cheek, an ultrasound of his brother's new baby. Larry and Jill Dalla Betta, Justin's mother, had decorated his room for Christmas.

Three weeks earlier, on the day after Thanksgiving, Gaertner had managed to make one phone call home.

"Dad, I've been hit," he said. "I've lost both my legs."

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