Gov. Scott Signs Bill Into Law Creating Dozier Memorials, Reburying Unclaimed Remains
FLORIDA – Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill into law allowing for the creation of memorials for boys who died from the abuse at the now-closed Dozier School for Boys as well as the abuse survivors.
Robert Straley, a former ward of the North Florida reform school, went there in his early teens. He says while there, he survived sexual abuse and severe beatings.
“At the Dozier School for Boys, they use whips on the boys like they use on slaves in the 1800s, and they got away with that for 68 years until Governor [Claude] Kirk stopped it in 1968,” he said. “They wouldn’t think nothing of giving a 10-year-old boy 60 lashes.”
Researchers later unearthed 55 buried remains on the Dozier grounds in Marianna. And, with the new law in effect, it will now allow for the reburial of the unclaimed remains as well as memorials in Tallahassee and Marianna—costing $1.2 million. It also opens the door for researchers to unearth even more remains.
Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature also passed a resolution formally apologizing for the abuses Straley and others suffered at the hands of staffers at Dozier and its sister campus in Okeechobee.
Bill Creating Dozier Memorials, Reburying Unclaimed Remains Heads To Gov. Scott
May 5, 2017 A bill creating memorials to remember the boys who died and were buried in unmarked graves on the Dozier School for Boys’ grounds is now heading to Governor Rick Scott. It’s part two of what the Florida legislature’s doing to help address the abuses that occurred at the school decades ago.
After Senate Apologizes To Dozier Victims, Will It Now Take Up House Bill Creating Memorials?
Apr 19, 2017 While the Florida Senate is on its way to that path, the House has officially apologized to the survivors of the infamous Dozier School for Boys. It’s for the abuse they suffered at the hands of staffers at the state-run juvenile reform school in North Florida decades ago.
HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA – County authorities are admitting to interagency communication breakdowns and negligent reporting in combating rampant child abuse, but say improvements are in the works.
Officials made the admissions late last week in response to two scathing civil grand jury reports about multi-agency failures by schools, law enforcement and county Child Welfare Services to report and combat child abuse effectively.
The grand jury probe concluded that Humboldt’s social services system is so structured that at times it appears “dysfunctional.”
The panel issued a two-pronged warning in the wake of an eight-month investigation:
“The safety net for our children critically needs improvement.”
“The children of Humboldt County are ill-served by the intake system that is meant to protect them!”
The Union reported in December that the county’s child abuse and neglect rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the California average, according to Mary Ann Hansen, executive director of First 5 Humboldt, the family support and child abuse prevention agency (Union, Dec. 10, 2016).
The weekend edition of the Times-Standard quoted Sheriff William Honsal acknowledging that communications between his office and Child Welfare Services have “absolutely failed over the last couple of years” to react quickly enough to reports of child abuse and neglect. He faulted Child Welfare case workers for lax communications but said the two agencies are at work on shoring them up, the newspaper quoted him stating.
The grand jury report voiced strong skepticism that the promised improvements will materialize.
Times-Standard reporter Will Houston also quoted Chris Hartley, Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, that school district officials have been meeting monthly for several years with counterparts from the Department of Health and Human Services and that the dual grand jury reports will, belatedly, kick off discussions about coordinating child abuse reporting.
In stinging rebukes, two 2016-2017 civil grand jury reports, “Responding in Time to Help our ‘At Risk’ Children” and “Child Welfare in Humboldt: Getting the Door Open,” fault major problems in how schools, law enforcement and county agencies work to protect highly vulnerable youngsters.
“Lack of timeliness and follow-up can have devastating results,” warns the exposé on slow response times. Among the findings:
School districts struggle with their responsibility as Mandated Reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. They often describe their contacts with law enforcement and child welfare as “frustrating” and “problematic.”
Of the five school districts investigated, comprising numerous schools, all representatives “expressed high levels of frustration with Child Welfare Services in the initial filing and subsequent handling of Mandated Reports.”
The Arcata School District gave high marks to the cooperation of the Arcata Police Department in child abuse investigations, but other districts registered multiple complaints about sheriff’s stations in their locales. Frequently, deputies “do not answer our calls,” “tell us they do not have sufficient personal to investigate” or they investigate “but do not leave a report” of the investigation.
School employees were “vociferous in their complaints” about Child Welfare Services. The grand jury spelled out the critical remarks:
“They often do not return our calls.”
“The Child Welfare hotline is “totally worthless.”
“We don’t go that far South.”
“That is not within our jurisdiction.”
“You should call the sheriff’s office about this.”
School personnel told the grand jury that often they never receive a reply from Child Welfare about a filed Mandated Report. The most common replies, if any, are “does not meet the state requirements for intervention” or secondly, “referred to other services.”
The latter means Child Welfare made an initial inquiry and then referred a family to voluntary social services or another community agency – but did not follow-up on whether the family followed through.
Turning to law enforcement, virtually all the of officers interviewed stated that drugs and alcohol were involved in the majority of the Mandated Report cases they investigated.
Like the school districts, law enforcement cited numerous problems in dealing with Child Welfare. In multiple instances, the difficulty is a severe lack of timely interagency communication.
Two examples, according to law officers (CWS refers to Child Welfare Services):
CWS tends to send a week’s supply of requests late Friday afternoon, making it difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to begin investigations until the following Monday.
In cases involving possible physical or sexual abuse, law enforcement must be contacted within hours, but the sheriff’s office is sometimes called days or weeks after CWS receives an initial report.
The child abuse report voiced doubts, based on past experience, that law enforcement and Child Welfare will improve their mutual openness and communication.
“While the Grand Jury supports apparent current efforts to create a task force to improve transparency and communication, the history of such past efforts gives us reason to be skeptical at this time.”
All of the social workers interviewed “appeared to be seriously dedicated to the work they were doing” with at-risk children, but said the Department of Health and Human Services has overwhelming caseloads, high turnover and lack of experience in dealing with the caseload.
Child Welfare staff dismissed school district complaints, alleging that many Mandated Reporters do not know how to fill out their reports properly or understand the criteria to be followed.
However, the grand jury found that “of the approximately 250 redacted Mandated Reports that we read, not one was filled out inappropriately or inaccurately.”
This may well be your last chance, as a Parent, to be what your Child needs most, and that is a Good Parent that Loves, Protects, and Nurtures Their Child. This can only be accomplished if you and your Child can effectively communicate.
Can you spell “abstinence”….
The average cost of an AIDS test is about $65.00. While researching this, I noted more than one reference which stated that as many as three (3) tests were needed to confirm an absolute finding of Positive for HIV/AIDS.
There is a very good reason for me including this information:
Before ending his time in office, President Obama made it legal for a homosexual male to give blood. On top of the time to test this blood given, you have a basic cost of one test, now you multiply time and cost times three (3).
Before I continue, I want you to know that Our Family will not accept blood from any source other than a group of close Friends or Family, with the exception of in the event of extreme emergency.
Our Country is inundated by an epidemic of STDs: HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, that, in truth is already a Pandemic. The CDC, medical community, and Our Own Government are attempting to force-feed us, WE THE PEOPLE, tainted, watered down statistics, that only a Child might believe. One only has to read the “Call To Action” on syphilis to see through the DECEPTION. However, this latest Call To Action on Gonorrhea will remove any doubt as to the severity of what “SOMEONE” is attempting to do to WE THE PEOPLE and Our Great Country, and I say this because after you read these, you will see, as I do, that this latest is more near a SCREAM AND RUN FOR COVER ATTITUDE.
I pray that Our Mighty, Loving, GOD protect us all.
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitus, STD, and TB Prevention Division of STD Prevention
June 6, 2017
Dear Partners in Prevention,
Concerning developments reported last year suggest that gonorrhea may be beginning to outsmart our last recommended treatment. Keeping an eye on antibiotic resistance has never been more important. CDC has developed these new tools to assist in your efforts to make sure your communities are aware of the emerging threat of drug-resistant gonorrhea and to help them better understand the issue:
A NEW video animation was developed to help raise awareness about drug-resistant gonorrhea. It illustrates gonorrhea’s history of overpowering almost every drug ever used to treat it, the current battles we face as the bacterium evolve, and the dangers of this common infection becoming untreatable. Please share with your memberships and those who seek to educate community leaders and others about this topic.
The 2015 Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project (GISP) Profiles are also now available. In addition to the national antimicrobial susceptibility results included in the 2015 STD Surveillance Report, the GISP Profiles provide a one-stop resource to assure you have the most up-to-date national and local CDC antimicrobial susceptibility data. For more than 30 years, these data have helped those of us in public health ensure gonorrhea is successfully treated with the right drugs.
Thank you for your continued commitment to prevention and your efforts to keep drug-resistant gonorrhea a top public health priority.
Gail Bolan, M.D. Director,
Division of STD Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Unsupervised boys at Dallas County juvenile
detention center engaged in sex acts
DALLAS, TX – Boys locked up for sex offenses were left unsupervised at a Dallas County juvenile detention center long enough to engage in sexual acts with each other on at least two occasions.
The misconduct occurred while the youths were sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a multipurpose room at the Lyle B. Medlock treatment facility in southern Dallas. The boys were required to sleep on the floor as a group “intermittently” from December through April because of severe understaffing, said Terry Smith, the county’s juvenile department director.
At least five boys were found to have engaged in sexual contact during that period — three boys in one instance and two in the other, Smith said.
“I’m madder than hell,” said Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who sits on the juvenile board. “They’ve turned it into a free-for-all out there. Nobody’s minding the store.”
About 28 boys, ages 13 to 17, are in a treatment program known as STARS at the facility because they were found to have committed sex offenses.
Staffers learned of the sexual incidents in April during routine polygraph tests that are part of the STARS program, Smith said. The youths said the incidents occurred while they were housed on the multipurpose room floor several months earlier, Smith said.
At least one boy’s parents called Price’s office to complain about the sexual incidents. At a juvenile board meeting last week, Price asked about what happened.
Medlock superintendent Marilyn Boss told Price that the sexual incidents involved “touching” but “no penetration.”
After reviewing investigative reports related to the incidents this week, Price said Boss’ characterization was false, although he declined to answer whether the contact did include penetration. He said the reports aligned with the parents’ accounts.
“They lied publicly,” Price said. “It was a lot more than touching. It was sexual shenanigans.”
In addition to the sexual contact and sleeping on the floor — which could violate state standards — detained children have escaped from low-security county juvenile facilities as recently as Wednesday.
Two juveniles who’d been adjudicated for offenses ran from the cafeteria at the Youth Village on Wednesday, Smith said. At least two escaped in April after they broke a window by throwing a drawer through it. One of the juveniles has yet to be found.
This is all evidence, Price said, that the juvenile department is plagued by mismanagement.
“The fact that staff had access to this kind of information and no heads have rolled is unacceptable,” he said.
Smith said she has taken steps to hold officers accountable for the lapses in supervision and to address the issues created by understaffing. She recently held a job fair to boost recruitment.
“There are things we must improve upon, absolutely,” Smith said. She said she plans to move the boys in STARS to another lockup by the end of June, where each youth will sleep in his own cell. Smith said she planned that move six months ago — before the allegations. Price expressed skepticism about that, sarcastically calling the decision a “eureka moment.”
Smith said the department is doing the best it can with a group of deeply troubled children. None of the youths involved in the sexual incidents alleged any force or coercion, she said. Regardless, juveniles in confinement aren’t legally able to give consent for sexual activity.
“Those kids have been abused and exposed to horrific situations themselves,” Smith said. “Part of the problem with our sex offender kids is they don’t have appropriate ways to express themselves sexually because of their own sexual trauma history. Those are the cycles we try to break.”
County Judge Clay Jenkins, who sits on the juvenile board, said he was “concerned” about the “failures” but stopped short of calling the department mismanaged. All juvenile lockups struggle to prevent sexual contact between youths and none are “100 percent successful,” he said.
“There were clearly issues here that need to be corrected and improved on,” Jenkins said. “I can’t take a jump from that, to saying that the entire juvenile system is headed in the wrong direction or there’s a leadership problem systemically. But I can say that any time there’s sexual contact between children in confinement, that’s unacceptable.”
Smith said she was disappointed in the managers at Medlock, where STARS is housed, for not telling her about the severity of the understaffing there. She was unaware that youths were sleeping on mattresses on the floor until Price brought it up at the public meeting last week.
Raises and hiring boosts at state Child Protective Services caused some of the staffing woes, Smith said, as juvenile officers jumped to jobs they were qualified for at higher pay.
She said she needs about 40 more employees and hopes to hire them by the end of June. Exacerbating the staffing issue, she said, the number of teens being placed under Dallas County’s supervision has risen 14 percent this year.
The department has been careful to stay within the staffing ratios required by the state, which are one employee for every 12 juveniles during waking hours and one employee per 24 youths during sleeping hours, Smith said.
The county’s Juvenile Board is responsible for inspecting and certifying that its facilities are up to state standards to keep receiving state funding. The board is made up of Price, Jenkins, five judges and a community member. Last week, Price voted not to pass the Medlock center, but the other members did approve the building’s certification.
Price plans to file a complaint with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department asking the agency to investigate Dallas County’s problems. Besides a lack of supervision, Price said the lockups have violated the standard that requires juveniles to sleep at least 6 inches above the floor.
After a sex abuse scandal roiled the TJJD in 2007, state lawmakers created the Office of the Independent Ombudsman to investigate state-run juvenile detentions. Years of reforms have caused more youths to be held in county lockups closer to their homes rather than in remote rural detention centers. But the ombudsman office is not staffed or mandated to keep tabs on county juvenile facilities, though watchdog groups say it should be.
The state pays $126 per day per youth housed at Medlock, which has the capacity for 96 juveniles. That funding could be cut or suspended if state regulators find the lockup to be out of compliance and it fails to correct the problems.
There are signs that Medlock’s conditions are improving, at least in some ways. In the first quarter of this year, Medlock logged five uses of physical restraints and zero instances of suicidal gestures or staff injuries. That’s down compared with the first quarters of 2016 and 2015, when the facility logged more reportable incidents, including 18 and 38 uses of physical restraints, respectively.
Still, the issues coming to light are disturbing to observers. They could cause youths to end up in worse shape than when they went in, said Lindsey Linder, juvenile justice policy attorney at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. She called the sleeping on mattresses on the floor “dehumanizing.”
“This is horrific,” Linder said. “The idea that we’re putting these kids in situations that is going to further perpetuate their sexual trauma is abhorrent. It should be common sense and obvious that we should do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”