In an effort to bring closure to the families of boys allegedly murdered at a now shuttered Panhandle reform school, Democratic state legislators have filed bills to provide state funding for reinterments and the preservation of artifacts.
The bills, sponsored by Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, and Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, would reimburse the families of children buried on the grounds of the former Dozier School for Boys between $5,000 and $7,500 for reinterment expenses.
University of South Florida anthropologists have discovered 55 unmarked graves at Dozier, which researchers and former inmates believe to be the final resting places of predominantly African-American boys who were beaten to death.
The legislation also calls on the Florida Department of State to catalog artifacts and records related to Dozier.
Joyner says items that have been unearthed, including belt buckles, coffin hardware and embalming fluid, are powerful reminders of the excesses that took place at Dozier during the racially-charged 1960s and should be publicly exhibited.
"We don't need history to repeat itself, and the only way that that occurs is that people are fully informed of what transpired during those dark days at Dozier School," Joyner said.