The Dozier School for Boys: Forensics, Survivors, and a Painful Past

Lerner/Twenty-First Century. Sept. 2019. 120p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. lib. ed. $37.32. ISBN 9781541519787.
Gr 8 Up–The Dozier School for Boys, near Marianna in the Florida panhandle, was established in 1900 as a reform school for “wayward” boys. It promised “careful physical, intellectual, and moral training” so that boys could be “restored to the community with...character fitting for a good citizen.” The reality, however, was far different. Survivors of Dozier began to come forward in 2008 with stories of beatings, sexual abuse, and rape. It was even alleged that several attempted escapees were murdered and buried or consigned to the nearby swamp. In 2009, Dozier survivors filed a class action lawsuit against four Florida state agencies and administrator Troy Tidewell. The lawsuit was dimissed by the judge, who ruled that the statute of limitations for the crimes had elapsed. However, in 2011, two Florida legal service teams presented a case against the school to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The legal teams said that the school had violated civil rights, namely the Fourteenth Amendment. In June of 2011, the school finally closed for good. Photographs, sidebars, and a glossary enhance the narrative. Source notes, bibliography, and an index indicate thorough research.
VERDICT After a somewhat shaky start where Dr. Murray seems uncertain of her direction, the forensic scientist and educator gains strength and focus, producing a true crime story which should fascinate young readers. Recommended for all middle, high school, and public library collections.
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