Dozier victims bill backed by Senate panel

Entrance to former Dozier School for Boys
Entrance to former Dozier School for Boys (News Service of Florida photo by Tom Urban)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill that will create a process for identifying victims of abuse at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna and a related juvenile facility in Okeechobee was approved in a 6-1 vote Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice.

The bill (SB 1780), sponsored by Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, would require victims of the now-closed reform schools to submit an application, including an affidavit, to the Department of Juvenile Justice by Oct. 1, 2018.

Hundreds of boys were abused over decades at the now-shuttered reform schools.

Under the proposal, the state agency would review the applications and then submit a list of certified victims to the Legislature by March 1, 2019.

“This bill only seeks to identify those who are still living with the injuries, both psychological and physical,” Rouson said.

Once the list is completed, he said it would give lawmakers the opportunity for future actions, such as filing a claim bill to compensate the victims or some other action.

A similar bill (HB 1315), sponsored by Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, has yet to be heard in the House.