On behalf of the families whose sons, brothers, and uncles are buried at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, USF researchers have been investigating the deaths of those interred on the grounds. These researchers have sought permission from the State of Florida to exhume human remains at the site. However, the Secretary of State refuses to give permission. Therefore, I am petitioning our state leaders to reconsider this decision and authorize exhumations at Dozier, with the aim of allowing investigation into the circumstances of these deaths.
At Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, there has been a history of violence and abuse of student pupils, evidenced by the testimony of former young men remanded to the reform school from 1900-2011. Today, forensic anthropologists, cultural anthropologists, and archaeologists are working to uncover the truth about the abuses and deaths at the school, and to exhume remains of individuals buried in unmarked graves on the premises. The research project is not meant to provide evidence for prosecution, but rather to provide closure for the loved ones of these young victims. How we treat our dead is part of what makes us human. Justice and closure for the families of those who were at the Dozier School, and respect for those who died there, should be of central concern to our State’s legislators. The identification of those buried in unmarked graves, and the circumstances of their deaths, becomes a human rights issue. The families of the deceased have a right to know what has become of their loved ones and to put them to rest properly. Furthermore, the public has a right to know the circumstances of their deaths, not only for public record, but also to keep similar atrocities from occurring in the future. I am asking that the public take this situation seriously, and that our state legislators support the work of USF researchers in providing closure to these families.
Please join me in petitioning our Florida State Legislators, Governor Rick Scott, Secretary of State Detzner, and Attorney General Pam Bondi, to work together to find a way to authorize the exhumation project which is taking place on state-owned land, and to take responsibility for ensuring that the truth of the circumstances at Dozier does not stay hidden any longer.
The recent editorial written by The News Herald of Panama City Beach, “Respecting the Dead” has eloquently summarized the situation and reasoning why the exhumations should be allowed. Please refer to the websites for more information: http://m.newsherald.com/opinions/editorials/respecting-the-dead-1.173669
For more information and interviews with survivors of the Dozier school, please refer to the Tampa Bay Times, “For their own good: a St. Petersburg Times special report on child abuse at the Florida School for Boys”:
Please, as Florida State Legislators, work together to find a way to authorize the exhumation project which is taking place on state-owned land, and to take responsibility for ensuring that the truth of the circumstances at Dozier does not stay hidden any longer.