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Dozier School For Boys Land Transferred To Jackson County

The White House was a notorious building at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, where more unmarked graves of boys may have been found.
Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM
The "White House" located on the grounds of Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, where alleged abuse survivors say a lot of the abuse occurred

The Florida Cabinet voted Tuesday to transfer much of the former Dozier School for Boys near the Panhandle town of Marianna to Jackson County.

The reform school became infamous for decades of allegations of abuse, torture, and even murder.

The transfer of the areas known as the North Campus, the South Campus and Boot Hill Cemetery includes the "White House," where boys underwent systematic torture. A plaque memorializing the victims will be placed on the site.

"If y'all see fit, we'd like to see us take the challenge of turning this into a positive impact to Jackson County, instead of some of the negative stuff we've had from there," said Jackson County Commissioner Chairman Clint Pate.

The county will use state grants to build a regional distribution and manufacturing center, as well as a training center for people with autism.

Attorney General Pam Bondi supported the transfer.

"I've quietly been there," she said. "This is long overdue. And I think this is a great, great move for our state and our country."

University of South Florida forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle led a team that investigated burial grounds on the campus.

She's not worried that there's any evidence left on the property that's being returned to the county.

"When you're talking about 1,400 acres, there's no way to search every inch of it, certainly. But I would say we've investigated every lead as thoroughly as could be," Kimmerle said.

Of the 51 sets of remains removed from 55 graves in from the Dozier cemetery, Kimmerle says they've positively identified eight sets and returned them to their families. They have also made 14 presumptive identifications.

Historical records show that nearly 100 boys from six to 18 died at the school between 1900 and 1973. Many have not been identified and were buried in unmarked locations.

The school grounds and buildings have been vacant since the state closed Dozier in 2011.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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