On Saturday, researchers from the University of South Florida will converge on the sleepy Florida Panhandle town of Marianna to start digging up graves at the closed Dozier School for Boys.

Former students have told stories of abuse, torture and death at the reform school dating back to more than sixty years ago.

Many Marianna residents are tight-lipped about the dig. Business leaders won't speak on camera, fearing what their customers might think.

Dig for Human Remains Starts Saturday at Dozier

Aug 27, 2013

The University of South Florida will begin digging for human remains from the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna on Saturday. The work on the unmarked graves outside the closed Panhandle reform will be the first in a series of excavations.

The first dig will last through Tuesday.

USF researchers have a one-year window to search the grounds for the reportedly unaccounted-for bodies of boys said to have died at the school between 1900 and 1952.

State Representative Alan Williams says it’s time for the truth about Dozier to come out.



Florida officials today voted to reopen a dark chapter in the state's history. Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet voted to allow researchers to exhume some 90 unmarked graves at a state-run reform school. The Dozier School for Boys was closed two years ago, but over its 100-year history, it was notorious for physical abuse. As NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami, the hope is that today's decision will unearth answers about the children who died there and why.

Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved a year-long dig for human remains at a closed Panhandle reform school, saying the state cannot ignore abuse that went on for decades.

They approved a land-use agreement on Tuesday, allowing University of South Florida researchers to search for the bodies of boys who may have died between 1900 and 1952 at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

Over the past decade, hundreds of men have come forward to tell gruesome stories of abuse and terrible beatings they suffered at Florida's Dozier School for Boys, a notorious, state-run institution that closed last year after more than a century.

Known as the "White House Boys," these 300-some men were sent as boys to the reform school in the small panhandle town of Mariana in the 1950s and 1960s. They have joined together over the years to tell their stories of the violence administered in a small building on the school's grounds they knew as the White House.