27 Graves Found in Florida Reform School

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27 Graves Found in Florida Reform School

Samantha Valdez, Opinon Editor

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At the beginning of the 20th century, a reform school was opened in Florida with the purpose of helping troubled boys, many of whom had committed crimes ranging from rape to theft. Almost as soon as the school opened, reports of mistreatment surfaced. Many claimed boys were beaten badly by school staff, beat by violent peers, or chained in isolation for days. Besides physical abuse, boys were also allegedly sexually abused by peers or staff. Many of the survivors recall a scary one-armed man who gave lashings. Many of the boys who went to that school died. There is a report from the year 1925 about a boy named Thomas Curry who was only at the school for 29 days before he died, also another report claimed a boy who tried to escape died from “gunshot wounds in chest inflicted by person or persons unknown.”  The school was open for 111 years, and from 1900 and 1973 over 100 deaths were reported; however, it is believed many more occurred with no report.

This school had a small cemetery on campus and over the past few years, over 50 different sets of human remains have been found. Recently 27 graves were found near this now closed school by a contractor. The contractor had been hired by a company called Geosyntec, an environmental cleaning agency which just wanted to use a radar to survey the school grounds. The contractor was aware of what had happened on these grounds many years ago and when he found 27 irregular coffin shaped objects, the company sent a report to the Department of Environmental Protection. This launched an operation to retrieve the bodies. Jackson County stated that they would “ensure this issue is handled with the utmost sensitivity and care.” It has been confirmed that the 27 objects found were indeed graves, and forensics are now working to identify the victims.

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