Florida’s Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys was a Horror Tale come to Life
“There’s just too many stories,” Roger Kiser, who was at the school in the 1950s, has said. “I know of one [boy] that I personally saw die in the bathtub that had been beaten half to death. I thought he’d been mauled by the dogs because I thought he had ran. I never did find out the true story on that. There was the boy I saw who was dead who came out of the dryer. They put him in one of those large dryers.”
For more than a century, boys were sent to the Florida School for Boys reformatory in the north Florida town of Marianna. Many were beaten brutally and bear the physical and psychological scars to this day. Many boys, though, never came home. They died, some under mysterious circumstances. They were buried in unmarked graves and they were forgotten.
Children, some as young as five or six, who ran away from physically, sexually or verbally abusive homes; yet were labelled as incorrigible children by the juvenile court system of Florida. Under court order these children were sent away too physically work on state owned farms located at The Florida School for Boys at Marianna. In addition these same children were used by the local Marianna, Jackson County community working on ranches and unloading railroad cars for as long as twelve hours a day without any pay whatsoever. That in itself was terrible but nothing compared to what was happening behind closed doors at the institution. Many boys disappeared during the night and were never heard from again.
Over the past decade, hundreds of men have come forward to tell gruesome stories of abuse and terrible beatings they suffered at Florida’s Dozier School for Boys, a notorious, state-run institution.
Nicknamed the “White House Boys” after a small but infamous building on school property, called the White House, where violent punishments were meted out, the men have described vicious beatings and mistreatment at the hands of school administrators.
Closed since 2011, the reform school was located in the small panhandle town of Marianna, Fla., and served as a bleak destination for troublemakers, rule breakers and delinquents. In the 1900s, hundreds of boys were sent to the school — some never left.