As a young boy growing up in Florida from 1900 until 2011, it was possible to be sentenced to the Dozier School for Boys if you committed a crime, or just skipped school a lot. Boys as young as six could be found at the Dozier school, and while many came in, it was hard to get out, at least in the time that was in accordance to their sentence. Many boys stayed well after the time they were supposed to be released.
The Dozier school was supposed to educate the boys in jobs and in school, but often inmates who were black were simply given menial jobs such as working the farm, in the slaughter house, and doing all the daily chores whereas the white inmates were able to learn actual trades. To the outside world, the school was doing its job. But for many of the boys living within its grounds, it became a place of torture and terror. Many boys, as they grew into men, told stories of abuse at the hands of the administrators of the school, often when they were finally released. However, many families chose not to believe the boys returning, or felt they must be exaggerating. It wouldn’t be until years later that the truth of much of what occurred at the school finally was revealed.
The Dozier School for Boys: Forensics, Survivors, and a Painful Past by Elizabeth Murray tells a little known story of incarceration for children and how it went on for over a century. This is a fascinating, quick nonfiction read.
Recommended for 8th grade and up due to some of the abuse that occurred.