|Introduced in House||Passed House||Introduced in Senate||Passed Senate||Became Law|
Victims of Reform School Abuse
Citing this act as the "Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and Okeechobee School Abuse Victim Certification Act"; requiring a person seeking certification under this act to apply to the Department of State by a certain date; requiring the department to examine the application, notify the applicant of any errors or omissions, and request any additional information within a certain timeframe; requiring the department to certify an applicant as a victim of Florida reform school abuse if the department determines that the application meets the requirements of the act, etc.
Florida Senate - 2020 SB 750 By Senator Rouson 19-01063-20 2020750__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to victims of reform school abuse; 3 providing a short title; defining the term “victim of 4 Florida reform school abuse”; requiring a person 5 seeking certification under this act to apply to the 6 Department of State by a certain date; prohibiting the 7 estate of a decedent or the personal representative of 8 a decedent from submitting an application on behalf of 9 the decedent; requiring that the application include 10 certain information and documentation; requiring the 11 department to examine the application, notify the 12 applicant of any errors or omissions, and request any 13 additional information within a certain timeframe; 14 providing that the applicant has 15 calendar days 15 after such notification to complete the application; 16 requiring the department to review and process a 17 completed application within a certain timeframe; 18 prohibiting the department from denying an application 19 for specified reasons and under certain circumstances; 20 requiring the department to notify the applicant of 21 its determination within a certain timeframe; 22 requiring the department to certify an applicant as a 23 victim of Florida reform school abuse if the 24 department determines that the application meets the 25 requirements of the act; requiring the department to 26 submit a list of all certified victims to the 27 President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House 28 of Representatives; providing exceptions from 29 specified requirements for crime victim compensation 30 eligibility for applications by victims of Florida 31 reform school abuse; providing an effective date. 32 33 WHEREAS, the Florida State Reform School, also known as the 34 “Florida Industrial School for Boys,” the “Florida School for 35 Boys,” the “Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys,” and the “Dozier 36 School,” was opened by the state in 1900 in Marianna to house 37 children who had committed minor criminal offenses, such as 38 incorrigibility, truancy, and smoking, as well as more serious 39 offenses, such as theft and murder, and 40 WHEREAS, throughout the Dozier Schools history, reports of 41 abuse, suspicious deaths, and threats of closure plagued the 42 school, and 43 WHEREAS, many former students of the Dozier School have 44 sworn under oath that they were beaten at a facility located on 45 the school grounds known as the “White House,” and 46 WHEREAS, a psychologist employed at the Dozier School 47 testified under oath at a 1958 United States Senate Judiciary 48 Committee hearing that boys at the school were beaten by an 49 administrator, that the blows were severe and dealt with great 50 force with a full arm swing over the head and down, that a 51 leather strap approximately 10 inches long was used, and that 52 the beatings were “brutality,” and 53 WHEREAS, a former Dozier School employee stated in 54 interviews with law enforcement that, in 1962, several employees 55 of the school were removed from the facility based upon 56 allegations that they made sexual advances toward boys at the 57 facility, and 58 WHEREAS, a forensic investigation funded by the Legislature 59 and conducted from 2013 to 2016 by the University of South 60 Florida found incomplete records regarding deaths and 45 burials 61 that occurred at the Dozier School between 1900 and 1960 and 62 found that families were often notified of the death after the 63 child was buried or were denied access to their childs remains 64 at the time of burial, and 65 WHEREAS, the excavations conducted as part of the forensic 66 investigation revealed more burials than reported in official 67 records, and 68 WHEREAS, in 1955, the state opened a new reform school in 69 Okeechobee called the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee, 70 referred to in this act as the “Okeechobee School,” to address 71 overcrowding at the Dozier School, and staff members of the 72 Dozier School were transferred to the Okeechobee School, where 73 similar disciplinary practices were implemented, and 74 WHEREAS, many former students of the Okeechobee School have 75 sworn under oath that they were beaten at a facility on school 76 grounds known as the “Adjustment Unit,” and 77 WHEREAS, more than 500 former students of the Dozier School 78 and the Okeechobee School have come forward with reports of 79 physical, mental, and sexual abuse by school staff during the 80 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s and the resulting trauma that has 81 endured throughout their lives, and 82 WHEREAS, this is a unique and shameful chapter in the 83 history of the state during which children placed into the 84 custody of state employees were subjected to physical, mental, 85 and sexual abuse rather than the guidance and compassion that 86 children in state custody should receive, and 87 WHEREAS, during the 2017 Legislative Session, the 88 Legislature unanimously issued a formal apology to the victims 89 of abuse with the passage of CS/SR 1440 and CS/HR 1335, 90 expressing regret for the treatment of boys who were sent to the 91 Dozier School and the Okeechobee School; acknowledging that the 92 treatment was cruel, unjust, and a violation of human decency; 93 and expressing its commitment to ensure that children who have 94 been placed in the states care will be protected from abuse and 95 violations of human decency, NOW, THEREFORE, 96 97 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 98 99 Section 1. (1) This act may be known and cited as the 100 “Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and Okeechobee School Abuse 101 Victim Certification Act.” 102 (2) As used in this act, the term “victim of Florida reform 103 school abuse” means a living person who was confined at the 104 Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys or the Okeechobee School at any 105 time between 1940 and 1975 and who was subjected to mental, 106 physical, or sexual abuse perpetrated by school personnel during 107 the period of confinement. 108 (3)(a) A person seeking to be certified as a victim of 109 Florida reform school abuse must submit an application to the 110 Department of State no later than September 1, 2020. The estate 111 of a decedent or the personal representative of a decedent may 112 not submit an application on behalf of the decedent. 113 (b) The application must include: 114 1. An affidavit stating that the applicant was confined at 115 the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys or the Okeechobee School, 116 the beginning and ending dates of the confinement, and that the 117 applicant was subjected to mental, physical, or sexual abuse 118 perpetrated by school personnel during the period of 119 confinement; 120 2. Documentation from the State Archives of Florida, the 121 Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, or the Okeechobee School which 122 shows that the applicant was confined at the school or schools 123 for any length of time between 1940 and 1975; and 124 3. Positive proof of identification, including a current 125 form of photographic identification. 126 (c) Within 30 calendar days after receipt of an 127 application, the Department of State shall examine the 128 application and notify the applicant of any errors or omissions 129 or request any additional information relevant to the review of 130 the application. The applicant has 15 calendar days after 131 receiving such notification to complete the application by 132 correcting any errors or omissions or submitting any additional 133 information requested by the department. The department shall 134 review and process each completed application within 90 calendar 135 days after receipt of the application. 136 (d) The Department of State may not deny an application due 137 to the applicants failure to correct an error or omission or 138 failure to submit any additional information requested by the 139 department if the department failed to timely notify the 140 applicant of such error or omission or timely request additional 141 information as provided in paragraph (c). 142 (e) The Department of State shall notify the applicant of 143 its determination within 5 business days after reviewing and 144 processing the application. If the department determines that an 145 application meets the requirements of this section, the 146 department must certify the applicant as a victim of Florida 147 reform school abuse. 148 (f) No later than December 31, 2020, the Department of 149 State must review and process all applications that were 150 submitted by September 1, 2020, and must submit a list of all 151 certified victims of Florida reform school abuse to the 152 President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of 153 Representatives. 154 Section 2. (1) Notwithstanding s. 960.03(3), Florida 155 Statutes, for purposes of a claim under chapter 960, Florida 156 Statutes, by a victim of Florida reform school abuse, as defined 157 in section 1 of this act, or an intervenor, as defined in s. 158 960.03, Florida Statutes, the term “crime” means a felony or 159 misdemeanor offense committed by an adult or a juvenile which 160 results in a mental or physical injury or death. A mental injury 161 must be verified by a psychologist licensed under chapter 490, 162 Florida Statutes; by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or 163 chapter 459, Florida Statutes, who has completed an accredited 164 residency in psychiatry; or by a physician licensed under 165 chapter 458 or chapter 459, Florida Statutes, who has obtained 166 certification as an expert witness pursuant to s. 458.3175, 167 Florida Statutes. 168 (2) Notwithstanding s. 960.065(2)(c) and (3), Florida 169 Statutes, for purposes of a claim under chapter 960, Florida 170 Statutes, a “victim of Florida reform school abuse,” as defined 171 in section 1 of this act, is eligible to file a claim under 172 chapter 960, Florida Statutes. 173 (3) Notwithstanding s. 960.07, Florida Statutes, for 174 purposes of a claim under chapter 960, Florida Statutes, by a 175 “victim of Florida reform school abuse,” as defined in section 1 176 of this act, the victim or intervenor may file a claim relating 177 to such abuse within 1 year after the effective date of this 178 act. 179 Section 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.
|01/14/2020||Senate||Introduced -SJ 57|
|11/21/2019||Senate||Referred to Criminal Justice; Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development; Appropriations -SJ 57|