Restitution of victims of infamous Dozier boys’ school is a problem

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Legislation aimed at establishing a means of restitution for the victims of the infamous Dozier school for boys in Marianna encountered a problem in both chambers.

The victims of the reform school came to the state capitol on Wednesday hoping to gain support for the effort.

The state has already officially apologized for the atrocities at Dozier Boys’ School, a century-old state-run reform school.

MORE | Dozier School for Boys in Florida: A True Horror Story

Now the victims are asking the state to back up its words with action.

“We’re not giving up,” said Pastor Johnny Lee Gaddy, who dated Dozier from 1967 to 1971.

Gaddy has a simple request for restitution.

“If I can get the boat and a truck, then I can go fishing,” Gaddy said.

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It comes as no surprise that legislation that would create a route for victims to make a claim runs up against roadblocks in both chambers.

“13 years later, I still haven’t figured it out,” Gaddy said.

Survivor Roy Conerly has also spent more than a decade fighting for compensation.

“I don’t have a number, but if we were offered one, we would consider it regardless of the number,” said Conerly, who attended school in 1961 and 1962.

In 2013, a search of the reform school led to the discovery of the remains of 40 boys. Survivors suspect they died of abuse.

In the Senate, the bill is blocked by a senator who represents the region where Dozier is located. He told us at the start of the session that he did not believe the alleged abuse had occurred.

“I don’t believe for a minute that 500 people were abused there,” Senator George Gainer said in January.

But Senate godfather Darryl Rouson thinks the bill is too important to stop fighting.

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“Certainly in the larger state of the union, we can find a method just to go beyond just words of apology to take action,” Rouson said.

The future of the legislation is uncertain, but what is certain is that as long as the victims are alive, they will continue to come to Capitol Hill year after year to fight for their cause.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.


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