THE OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE BOYS ORGANIZATION

WHITE HOUSE BOYS NEWS & EVENTS

2015 WHITE HOUSE BOYS REUNION

The Official White House Boys Fellowship Reunion

Date : 17th October 2015 11:00 till 5:00

Location : 201 Lakeview ,Kissimmee,Florida 34741 - At the Osprey Pavilion
PLEASE RSVP by 1st OCT 2015 to
babbscooper@gmail.com or call 239 994 1280

Please may we ask if you have a folding lawn chair or any folding chair that you bring one!!!  Just in case we run short.
We would very much appreciate it if you could bring a SIDE DISH TO SHARE. Suggestions are Potato Salad, Cole slaw, Beans, Fruit and Desserts.
We are open to any suggestions. Please let Babbs know what you can bring.

Main course and drinks will be provided and all paper goods.

We have a contract with the:
Howard Johnson Express Inn and Suites
4836 W Irlo Bronson HWY,Kissimmee Fl 34746
407 396 4762

Discount CODE is WHB for 48.00 +tax
This price is good for 16th, 17th and 18th.
King or two double beds. Extra for more than two persons per room.  You may call for room confirmation after the 15th Sept.
NO PETS

Very important message from the Producers and filming crew: they will be present and looking forward to meeting and interviewing any WHB that would like to share their story about the abuse suffered at FSB/Dozier and Okeechobee. This will be a two hour film when completed.

If you have any questions feel. free to call me anytime .
The WHB phone is available 24/7.
Looking forward to seeing everyone. Be well and Safe Travels,
Babbs Cooper
Chairperson
239 994 1280


** 2014 REUNION INFO **

White House Boy Friends and Family Fellowship Reunion
 
When:  October 4th 2014    
From 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m.
 
LOCATION:  
Kissimmee Civic Center,
201 East Dakin Ave,
Kissimmee, FL 34741 


RSVP - Those attending need to contact Miss Babbs at (239)994-1280 as soon as possible so she can plan accordingly. 
 
Hello and a Happy Summer!  It is that happy time again!! The REUNION!
 
We are looking forward to gathering again this year for reunion and fellowship with all of the White House Boys and Okeechobee Boys as well as their family and friends.
 
FOOD & BEVERAGES:  Please find that meats, drinks and serving items are being provided.  Beverages offered will be: coffee, sweet & unsweetened tea, water and lemonade.
 
We are asking the men (and/or friend or family members)  bring a covered dish, dessert, or fruit -- and please surprise us with what ever you would like to share.  Please call Babbs  (Our  Reunion Chairperson ) to discuss the menu and what you will be bringing.  This is very important!  
(If you can make / bring Beans & Greens, please contact Miss Babbs!) 

                   
SCHEDULE: 
11am - 12pm - Meet and Greet.  
 
12pm - 1pm - A One Hour Meeting. (Any questions about the meeting, please call Jerry Cooper, President (239-542-3831) or James "Harley" DeNyke, our Sergeant at Arms (407 365-5558)
 
1:30pm - Celebrate with Fellowship Blessing and Lunch.  The meal will include Pulled Pork and Smoked Chickens as well as all the wonderful side dishes provided by the men and their families.  

Also:

Remembrance Program - (Those that Stand in Stead are welcome to bring photos & items to share). Tables will be decorated by family members of our lost loved ones in their honor and  remembrance.

Auction - 
Our Auctioneer, Don Stratton, will be conducting the auction again!! He and his wonderful family are a Blessing, and they work hard to make it a fun and positive time.  (As always, we welcome your donated items for the auction -- see also the note from Bill Price below)

                      
DISCOUNTED HOTELS / LODGING:  The good news is that the Champion World Resort has given us discounted rates for a double bed room at $49.99 a night. We have been there twice before and it is an amazing hotel with lots of amenities.  

Address:  Champion World Resort, 8660 West Irlo Bronson Highway, Kissimmee, Florida 34747
 
 
***Sharing a room with a "Brother" is great idea***.
 
RESERVATIONS:  To reserve a room at the Champion World Resort, call Leslie @ 407 997-4539 after August 21, 2014.  Be sure to ask for a pool-side room. Use the DISCOUNT CODE: WHB  49.99 nite.  Pets are allowed. 

BREAKFAST:  You can purchase discount coupons for the resort's breakfast at $7.00 each.  These coupons must be reserved before Sept. 27th.  

The hotel is a twenty five minute drive to the Civic Center where the reunion is being held.  We did not rent the Conference room at the hotel for our Reunion, because the cost of the meeting room and their meals (we could not bring our own food in), was far more than we could afford.  

We are so looking forward to seeing everyone and may our fellowship keep us united daily.   Please RSVP 
(239 994-1280).  
It is so important to have a head count for lunch and planning!  
     If I can be of any help, please call me.  I want to extend a very special thank you to each one of you for the suggestions and help you provide us to help make this a wonderful Reunion.  You are always a great family to work with.   
     God Bless our Survivors and Safe Travels and Many Blessings to all!!

Babbs, 
Reunion Chairperson
The Official White House Boys Org
Contact : (239) 994 - 1280
 

Note from Bill Price:
I would like to once again solicit items from White House Boys, family members, and friends to be used in the annual auction held during the reunion. I realize everyone opens their hearts and wallets during these times and it is greatly appreciated. This is our funding for the reunions and a few other humanitarian efforts.  Please bring items you deem will sell, and help this auction to be one of the best yet. I know everyone is excited and looking forward to once again getting together with some great friends that we have so much in common with. Everyone stay safe and well and I will see you there.
Bill Price
SOH/V.P.



To All Survivors Of Marianna And The Okeechobee School For Boys, Their Friends and Families, and members of the media:

In the 111 years of its existence, uncounted numbers of boys lost their lives, or suffered irreparable emotional damage, at the hands of the staff of the Dozier State School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.  We are stopping to remember and honor not just the dead, but especially the survivors.

MEMORIAL SERVICE

April 13, 2014 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg
719 Arlington Avenue North St. Petersburg, Florida
6:30 p.m.
Followed by a Candlelight Vigil at Mirror Lake (Mirror Lake is just steps away from the church)
For more information, please contact UU St. Petersburg at 727-898-3294 or email:
office@UUstpete.org                                                  

A NOTE FROM OUR PRESIDENT, JERRY COOPER REGARDING THE ABOVE
     The Unitarian Church located in St. Petersburg Florida contacted me a short time ago wanting to do a memorial service on Sunday, April 13, 2013 at 6:30pm for the boys who lost their lives at Florida School for boys and also for the men who survived the horrific treatment dealt to us at Florida School for Boys in Marianna or Okeechobee.  We are hoping for a big turnout.  The Mayor of St Petersburg, Rick Kriseman*, is even going to be there!
     It is our hope that if you are at all able to attend the service, that you do so. We realize that some of you may not be able to attend due to health, or finances or because you live too far away, but if there is any way that you can attend, it will be most appreciated!  Even if you can not make it to the service, your family and friends are still invited -- please ask them to come and represent you!
     As you know, in the past, the U.S. Justice Department issued a warning to Governor Scott that the treatment that occurred at these schools would result in releasing boys who would become criminals -- who would, at the least, be a threat to the general public.  Well, my friends, it did happen, just as the Justice Department said it would.   This school was a problem from the time it opened until it was closed in 2011.  And, if you believe that the infamous school was closed due to budgetary problems as was the reason released to the media, then please believe I only received 10 gentle licks with the strap by Troy Tidwell.
     This letter is for those who survived the schools' punishments and mental anguish and are still able to talk about what occurred at such a young age. I am not only asking you to please attend this service if you can,"but I am begging you" to attend. REMEMBER this is for you!!! And if you cannot attend please at least contact your family or friends in Florida and ask them to be there for you!!! They will sit with the White House Boys and their families to represent you at the service.
    I will now explain the reason for this service intended to honor you as survivors. At Saturday's meeting, Pastor Katy Korb advised us that the reason they decided to do a service for the White House Boys is because the assistant Pastor, Pierre Williams, has been haunted since he was a young child about Marianna.  He grew up in St Petersburg and has been a resident of St. Pete most of his life. He explained to me that he had 3 childhood friends that were sent from St Pete to Marianna "BUT NEVER RETURNED HOME".  Before he told me any more, I instantly stopped him and asked if would he please tell everything directly to Ben Montgomery, so nothing would be misquoted.  He agreed to do so.  I spoke to Ben yesterday and he will be in contact with Pastor Pierre today about this issue.  My hope is that there are family members of these 3 boys that are still alive that could possibly give their DNA to USF.  We will find out when Ben Montgomery conducts his interview and writes and publishes the story.
    My wife Babbs and I came home from the meeting in St. Petersburg about the Memorial Service on Saturday evening, then had to get up early Sunday morning to attend a meeting with the President of the BACA motorcycle club (Bikers Against Child Abuse) in Lakeland Florida and its members.  BACA  is  a club dedicated to protect all children from abuse all over America and in 7 other countries. Jim "Harley" De Nyke and his wife Betty also attended this meeting with us. "BACA" will be sending some riders to the Memorial Service to support us.  Their motto and back patch states "NO CHILD DESERVES TO LIVE IN FEAR".  For more info on BACA see this website:  
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/biker-gang-wages-war-against-child-abuse/
     Pastor Katy Korb told me that there will be a meeting room after the service for anyone who wants to ask the men any questions and we will be giving an update on the latest news about what is happening at both Okeechobee and Marianna.
    Again please show your support by attending and bringing friends and family members if at all possible. "God Bless You" and I will see you in St. Pete at 6:30 P.M. on the 13th of April.   Invitations will also be sent to the lawyers, DJJ, State Attorney Pam Bondi, Senator Bill Nelson, the cities of Marianna and Okeechobee, Florida, and any media that would like to attend.  Everyone is welcome!!!  Please confirm whether or not you and/or your friends and families can attend by calling me at the phone number below. 

Jerry A.Cooper President, "The Official White House Boys" 
239-542-3831 
http://www.officialwhitehouseboys.org/
"THIS IS FOR YOU WHITE HOUSE BOYS AND OKEECHOBEE BOYS PLEASE COME AND PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD EVERYWHERE"

* ABOUT MAYOR RICK KRISEMAN
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Rick Kriseman was elected as the 53rd mayor of St.  Petersburg, Florida's fourth largest city. He was sworn into office on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at St. Petersburg City Hall. His term expires January 2, 2018. Public Service:
 St. Petersburg City Council Member for six years, 2000 to 2006.
 Selected to serve as Council Chair in 2005.
 Elected to Florida House of Representatives, State House District 53, 2006 to 2012.
Served as State House Policy Chair in 2011-12.

** Matthew 18:6 (English Standard Version (ESV)
6. but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,[a] it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

CHRISTMAS  IS COMING!  PLEASE JOIN US IN HELPING MAKE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS FOR THE BOYS AT ECKERD'S YOUTH ALTERNATIVES for the 4th year in a row!  We are going to bring their gifts on December 11th, 2013!   We need your donations before November 27th, so we have time to shop.  Some of you have already given.  And, its not too late for the rest of you.  Also, its a great idea to ask friends, relatives, neighbors, and local business merchants if they will donate to the boys at Eckerds.  Information about this incredible program can be found HERE:  http://www.eckerd.org/  In the past 40 years, Eckerds has helped over 150,000 at-risk youth.  The Official White House Boys enjoy helping the boys at Eckerds, and hopefully making a difference in the boys' lives.  There is great joy in helping these boys to have a merry Christmas, and in encouraging them to make good decisions and set positive goals.  We have received thank you letters in the past from the boys we have helped, and in some cases, they had never received a Christmas gift in their life!  Many of the boys in the program are in the Foster Care system, so they don't have a "permanent" family.  They are so grateful and appreciative for the smallest things we give them, and for us taking the time to visit with them.  

We will be bringing presents to about 62 boys.  When asked what they would like for Christmas, the answer that is given most often is:  A Pillow.  Most of us probably take it for granted that we lay our heads on a pillow at night, but the state doesn't give them pillows in the DJJ system.  When we gave the boys their pillows last year, you would have thought they got a million dollars!  Other gifts we hope to be able to give them:  pillow cases, art supplies (there are a lot of budding artists among the boys), watches (we can get nice ones for about $3 each, but even that requires $186 when you are gifting 62 boys), candy, hacky-sack balls, and perhaps a fleece blanket. They also love when we give them toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and other hygiene items.  Two years ago we actually had enough to buy them each a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt as well as socks and underwear, but this gets very expensive when buying 62 of each item.  We were only able to do that due to a lot of participation from the White House Boys (every little bit helps), a donation from the proceeds of the Reunion Auction, and Jerry Cooper pounding the pavement asking everyone he knew for donations.   

In addition to the individual gifts, we like to get group gifts such as:  board games, soccer balls, basketballs, footballs, and playground balls.  The boys are divided into 6 groups, so we have to get 6 of each item we give them.  

How much we can do for the boys depends totally on your support.  If you would like to make a donation, please send it to:
Diane Fudge
16 Lemington Court
Homosassa, FL  34446
If you would like to join us on Dec. 11th when we bring the gifts to Eckerds Youth Alternatives in Brooksville, Florida, please let me know well in advance.  If you have questions, you can call Diane at 352-382-2120. 
 
Photos from last year's visit

 


Jim "Harley" DeNyke addresses the boys about the importance of making good choices.  After his talk one of the boys asked if he could speak to him, and the boy shared some struggles he was having with Jim.  It is at times like this when you see we can make a difference.  
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Election Results for 2014-2015:

President - Jerry Cooper 
Vice President - Nate Dowling /
Treasurer - Peggy Marx 
Secretary - Babbs Cooper / 
Sergeant At Arms James M "Harley" DeNyke
Past President "Emeritus" - Dick Colon

THE OCTOBER 13, 2013 REUNION IN KISSIMMEE WAS WONDERFUL!  We had almost 90 in attendance!  For photos, click HERE. Note:  The photos are in gallery format, so click the numbers under the row of photos to see the additional rows of pictures.    
 To see Jerry Cooper's daughter, Michelle, talk about being the daughter of a White House Boy, CLICK HERE.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE!!
RE: NOMINATIONS FOR Oct 13  must be received by Sept 1, 2013.  Mail to: TheOfficialWhiteHouseBoys@gmail.com.  Voting will take place at the reunion on Oct. 13th.  If you can not attend the reunion, you may place your vote on-line.
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 White House Boys Family and Friends Picnic
May 12, 2013 From 10:00 A.M. Till 5:00 P.M.

Osprey Pavilion at Kissimmee Lakefront Park: The Lakefront Pavilion offers the relaxed setting for your family reunion, company picnic or holiday celebration. And a Happy Spring to all. It is that time of the year when we all get to gather for Fellowship and cook a few Burger's and Dogs!
We have the Meats, Paper goods and positive spirit to share so bring a folding chair and a side dish or dessert to share PLEASE.
Drink's and bun's have been donated also.
WE ARE IN NEED OF A LARGE COOLER AND ICE FOR DRINK'S!!
Please call Babbs 239 994-1280 and confirm you will attend for guest count please
I will help you with any information I can. I have list of Hotel's and cost to share. Great prices out there in off season. Many Hotels close to exit's and town. CLICK HERE for a map of nearby hotels and motels.

 

Please come and Celebrate the Day and Enjoy the GOOD NEWS!!! There will be a WHB meeting for about an hour for legal updates. Lawyers said there will be a letter of updated information for all WHB.
Those that can not come will get snail mail or e-mail.
Looking forward to seeing many of you; so get comfortable and come on let's Celebrate and Fellowship.
Many Kind thoughts and wait till you see the new WHB Flags and WHB Patches Harley has to share!!!
Peggy is bringing a few hats that are left.
Pets on leash are welcome with clean up bag of course as it is a Public Park.
Good Cheer to all,
Babbs
WHB/Wife
And friend


 WHITE HOUSE BOYS REUNION WAS 15TH  OCTOBER  2011 at 12:00
Open to ALL WHBz. 
Note: 
 IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO A REUNION, BUT WERE ABUSED AT FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS IN MARIANNA, FL OR OKEECHOBEE, FL  DURING THE 1950s - 1960s, PLEASE COME AND FELLOWSHIP AND "HEAL' WITH US. YOU ARE WELCOME TO BRING YOUR  WIVES & FAMILIES.

LOCATION: Champion World Resorts
8660 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway
Kissimmee FL 34747

DATE:  The Reunion day is October 15th, but please note that some guests will be arriving on the 14th and/or staying till the morning of tthe 16th in order to fellowship .
 
RESERVATIONS:
  Phone the resort for your reservations:  407 396-4500.  Important  Note:  Tell them your group ID is  ( # WHB  )  in order to get your special rate of $  39.95. Ask for POOLSIDE so we'll all be in the same area!  (Pets are welcome for a fee of $35). 

QUESTIONS? please call Babbs Cooper at 239 542-3831.

 

 
CONTACT INFO
JERRY COOPER, PRESIDENT - 239-542-3831 samohi@comcast.net
BABBS COOPER, SECRETARY 239-994-1280 babbscooper@gmail.com
TheOfficialWhiteHouseBoys@gmail.com

TO SEE WHITE HOUSE BOYS NEWS COVERED IN NEWSPAPERS & ON TV, CLICK DOZIER GRAVES FOR ANYTHING RELATED TO THE UNMARKED GRAVES at DOZIER CONTAINING BODIES OF BOYS WHO ATTENDED FLORIDA SCHOOL FOR BOYS.  CLICK DOZIER GRAVES VIDEOS for News Videos regarding the excavation at Dozier. Click VIDEOS for other Video coverage about the White House Boys and click DJJ News for news coverage about Juvenile Justice.   =-========================




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BOYS IN THE DARK
Robert Straley reports the book "Boys in the Dark" came out on August 17th.  Here is a portion of the Atlanta Journal Constitution's review followed by a link to the rest of the article as well as info on how to obtain the book.  

‘Boys of the Dark' exposes juvenile detention center scandal - By Steve Weinberg, For the AJC

 

THE BOYS OF THE DARK: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in the Deep South By Robin Gaby Fisher with Michael O’McCarthy and Robert W. Straley St. Martin’s, 254 pages, $24.99

In an unusual collaboration for the realm of book publishing, journalist Robin Gaby Fisher has collaborated with two men who resided at a juvenile detention center decades ago to expose a scandal; the expose is long overdue, but in this instance, better late for a modicum of justice than never.

Fisher ("After the Fire") investigated the  Florida School for Boys, in the rural Panhandle town of Marianna, a short drive from the southwest tip of Georgia. Michael O’McCarthy and Robert W. Straley served as crucial sources for her, to the point where their names became added as co-authors of sorts.

 The book will be out on August 17th. Read the entire Atlanta Journal Constitution article here: http://www.ajc.com/lifestyle/boys-of-the-dark-586008.html. The book is available at Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Borders and other book stores.

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DON'T FORGET TO SEND IN YOUR NEWS TO theofficialwhitehouseboys@gmail.com

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LINKS FOR SOME OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT HELP ABUSED CHILDREN:

COALITION AGAINST INSTITUTIONALIZED CHILD ABUSE - http://www.caica.org/

JUSTICE4KIDS
http://www.justice4kids.org/
 

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CHECK OUT THE "WHITEHOUSE BOYS" SONG, by Canadian Band, Dhallium.  Click their website below to listen to this powerful song.  http://www.reverbnation.com/#/dhallium
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WHITE HOUSE BOY RAN FOR OFFICE IN 2010
 
 

 

BERNIE DeCASTRO
Although our group does not support any one political party, or represent any political view, we are very proud of White House Brother, Bernie DeCastro. He has overcome his adversity, and is running in the 2012 Senate Race. For more info, click
HERE.   
Here is an announcement for an event that Bernie recommends for every "Patriotic American":  
 For those of you who have not bought your tickets to the Nullification Now Conference in Orlando on October 10th, I would highly recommend this event. You can purchase you tickets at http://www.nullifynow.com/orlando/. This is event is being sponsored by the Tenth Amendment Center and it will help Floridians understand the importance of the 10th Amendment and the concept of Nullification. This is probably the greatest line of defense that the States have against Federal encroachment. I highly recommend that every Patriotic America attend this event.

Here is an article brother Bernie wrote about our Veterans: 
It is Shameful how our veterans are treated. June 26th, 2010

This past Thursday, June 24th my campaign team and I traveled to Alachua County to speak to residents. In a downtown park I spoke with several homeless veterans. I’d like to share with you the story of one of these veterans. His name is Glenn and he is a retired Naval pilot who flew F-4 Phantom jets over Vietnam for 7 years and today he has nowhere to go and his home for the next few days is the Salvation Army. There were a total of six men on those park benches and at least three of them were homeless veterans. What a shameful way for our government to treat our veterans who risked their lives for their country. But we can spend billions upon billions each year providing services to illegal aliens. Why. Because of the lack of political will of the U.S. Congress. Two of my top priorities when I get to the Senate will be to support immigration legislation which will 1. immediately begin to secure our borders 2. provide all the resources needed to prevent anyone else from illegally entering America 3. Deport all illegals 4. Send the “Anchor Babies” home with their parents 5. Repeal the law which allows for “Anchor Babies.” Once those issues are resolved then I would be willing to participate in updating America’s immigration strategy and coming up with solutions for guest workers.

My second priority will be to sponsor a Veteran’s Rights bill. This bill would eliminate property taxes for veterans who had served minimum time in the Armed Forces. This bill would also provide for decent apartments for our veterans until they could get on their feet. There would be certain minimum requirements such a substance abuse testing and taking advantage of academic and/or vocational remediation programs. This bill would guarantee that no American veteran would ever be forced to sleep on a park-bench or under a bridge with a cardboard box as a blanket. 

 

 

HORRORS OF THE WHITE HOUSE MOVIE IS HERE!
This film is a portrayal of the horrific beatings that occurred at Florida School for Boys at Marianna in the 1960's and 1970's. Boys, some as young as nine, were beaten so badly that their underwear had to be surgically removed by the school's aging physician. Some boys simply disappeared after the beatings and were never heard from again. The United States Department of Justice is now investigating as the survivors come forward asking for justice.

Note from Webmaster.  The movie is complete and posted below.  It is VERY GRAPHIC & REALISTIC -- showing the institutional beatings that took place at The White House Torture Chamber, so please read the warnings at the beginning of the film.  The video was done on a $1,000 budget and completed in just 30 days and your webmaster says "Job Well Done" to those involved!    PLEASE help further the cause to stop child abuse and tell people what really happened at The White House at FSB and OSB by clicking on the movie several times a day and sending this link  http://youtu.be/i6w5pKLSzQo   to all your family and friends and asking them to send it to everyone they know, and so on.  The more times the film is viewed, the more likely it will got on the "Most Watched" list, which will get it the attention needed.  If you can help by clicking on this film every day (better yet, several times a day) and sharing with everyone you know and asking those folks to pass it on, we can get the truth behind the beatings at the White House exposed to all.  

YOU CAN VIEW THE FILM BY CLICKING THE FORWARD ARROW IN THE CENTER OF THE MOVIIE (or the bottom left corner).  AND, TO STOP THE MOVIE.  CLICK ON THE PAUSE BUTTON IN THE BOTTOM LEFT CORNER.  THE PAUSE BUTTON IS 2 UPRIGHT LINES.



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Federal investigation confirms abuse at Dozier, suggests children in danger at other facilities
By Ben Montgomery, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Saturday, December 3, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice has blasted the state for failing to properly treat and protect children who were housed at the now-shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, Florida's first and oldest state-run reform school that closed in June after 111 years of operation.

 

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice's failure to oversee the program and prevent children from being abused and neglected suggests other programs have similar issues, according to the report by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, released late Friday.

"Although Dozier and JJOC (the Jackson Juvenile Offender Center on Dozier's campus) are now shuttered, these problems persist due to the weaknesses in the state's oversight system and from a correspondent lack of training and supervision," the report said. "Our findings remain relevant to the conditions of confinement for the youth confined in Florida's remaining juvenile justice facilities."

The Justice Department's investigation, announced in 2010 to then-Gov. Charlie Crist, showed "reasonable cause to believe that the state of Florida was engaged in a pattern or practice of failing to have proper measures of accountability that led to serious deficiencies."

The Justice Department alleged many instances in which the state violated the constitutional rights of the boys, ages 13 to 21, confined to Dozier, and said the state must take immediate measures to "assess the full extent of its failed oversight" to protect children at its other facilities. The state must also strengthen its oversight processes by implementing a more rigorous system of hiring, training and accountability, the report said.

DJJ spokesman C.J. Drake said Florida has already implemented a number of reforms and has seen a dramatic reduction in the use of physical techniques to control children. He also said the state has closed or substantially reduced 23 residential programs statewide since 2008 because of performance issues.

"That's because we proactively identify problems in our residential programs and take swift corrective action," Drake said. "Residential programs that cannot implement and sustain corrective actions are closed."

DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters, who took over the department in January, was not available to comment on the report, Drake said.

The Department of Justice found:

• Staff used excessive force on youths, including choking and mechanical restraints. It documented incidents caught on tape in which guards violently pushed youths to the ground, and struck and choked youths. Staff unlawfully shackled youths with mechanical restraints as a first response to youths who did not respond to verbal commands. One youth was held face-down on the floor for 48 minutes and placed in mechanical restrains for an additional three hours and 17 minutes.

• Youths were often disciplined for minor infractions through inappropriate uses of lengthy and unnecessary isolation without due process. The report documented one case in which a boy was kept in isolation — inside a small cell with a concrete-slab bed and thin mattress — for two weeks. And shortly after he was released, he was sent back to isolation.

• Staff were not appropriately trained and had a generally "laissez-faire attitude" toward suicidal youth. The report noted that average pay for direct-care staff fell below $12 an hour, well below the nationwide median hourly wage for correctional officers of $18.78.

• The safety of youths was compromised as a result of their relocation to the Jackson Juvenile Offender Center (a more restrictive and punitive facility on the Dozier campus).

• The state failed to provide necessary and appropriate rehabilitative services to address addiction, mental health or behavioral needs, which served as a barrier to the youths' ability to return to the community and not reoffend.

• Youths were subjected to unnecessary and unconstitutional frisk searches. Dozier youths were frisk searched more than 10 times per day. One told investigators, "Some staff rub on your privates." Another said staff "touch too much."

"The failure to address these concerns not only harms the youth, but has a negative impact on public confidence and public safety," the report said. "The critical role of the juvenile justice system to correct and rehabilitate is being abdicated and youth may well be leaving the system with additional physical and psychological barriers to success."

The Dozier school in Marianna, about 60 miles west of Tallahassee, has been the subject of an ongoing investigative series in the St. Petersburg Times called "For Their Own Good." The facility has been exposed a number of times for abuse and neglect. The Department of Justice's investigation confirms much of what the Times has reported.

"What the Department of Justice has done in this report is help us look back at what was and gives us a true guide for what should never, ever happen again," said child advocate Jack Levine, who exposed abuse at Dozier in the early 1980s that prompted a federal class-action lawsuit against the state.

Drake, the DJJ spokesman, said the department is working on a response to the report.

"The issues at Dozier occurred long before this administration took office and it was this administration that closed that facility," he said. "We … do not tolerate misconduct or poor performance. If we identify it we seek to correct it, and if it's not corrected it's closed."

Times staff writer Waveney Ann Moore contributed to this report. Ben Montgomery can be reached at bmontgomery@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8650.

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ENJOY BROTHER JERRY COOPER'S HIT SONG ABOVE BY PRESSING THE FORWARD ARROW!
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