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Dozier Victims Measure Moves Forward

Tampa Bay Times
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday approved a bill that will create a process allowing the certification of victims of abuse at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna and a related juvenile facility in Okeechobee.

More than 500 boys suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse at the reform schools from the 1940s through the 1960s, according to a formal apology passed by the Legislature last year.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, would require victims to submit an application for certification, including an affidavit, to the Department of Juvenile Justice by Oct. 1, 2018. The agency would review the applications and submit a list of certified victims to the Legislature by March 1, 2019.

Rouson says the information would then let lawmakers make “an informed decision” about whether the victims should receive compensation from the state, which would take the form of a claim bill filed in the Legislature.

The bill (SB 1780) next heads to the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. A similar measure (HB 1315), sponsored by Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, has yet to be heard in the House.