The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, which was also known as the Florida State Reform School, closed in June 2011 after state investigators and the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division confirmed widespread abuse over many decades.
The state attributed its decision to close the school to budgetary reasons. Yet long before then, the institution had been the target of investigations and lawsuits alleging not only physical and mental abuse but also forced labor, rape and even murder of the young charges sent to its care since it opened in 1900.
The prominent writer Roger Dean Kiser, author of "The White House Boys — An American Tragedy," about the horrors he experienced while incarcerated there in the 1950s as a child, has called the school a "concentration camp for little boys." He wrote that "a devil was hiding behind every tree, every building and even behind every blade of manicured grass."
"We anticipated finding about 25 to 30 grave shafts," said Christian Wells, an assistant professor of anthropology who led the anthropological work at the site, "but in fact we found a minimum of 50" — all of them on the north side of the campus, called Boot Hill, where African-American boys were segregated.
A full picture of the sheer scale of the abuses remains difficult to paint, because there are significant gaps and discrepancies in the records, "and the cause and manner of death for the majority of cases are unknown," the report said.