State approves exhuming of unmarked graves at defunct Dozier reform school

USF plans to exhume bodies at unmarked graves at old Marianna school

Published On: Aug 06 2013 11:06:40 AM EDT   Updated On: Aug 06 2013 11:13:34 AM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet voted to let university researchers identify human remains at a defunct reform school.

Scott and the Cabinet on Tuesday granted permission to University of South Florida researchers seeking a permit to exhume bodies buried near the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

“This decision puts us a step closer to finishing the investigation,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in a release.  “Nothing can bring these boys back, but I’m hopeful that their families will now get the closure they deserve.” 

Attorney General Pam Bondi released a statement following the vote by the Board of Trustees to approve a land use agreement.

“From the beginning, I have supported efforts at the Dozier School for Boys in order to provide family members who lost loved ones with closure," Bondi wrote. "I was proud to vote in favor of the land use agreement that authorizes the University of South Florida to continue their work to return the human remains to the families and provide them with proper burials.”

Secretary of State Ken Detzner in mid-July told researchers that his department -- which oversees historical resources -- didn't have the legal authority to grant the request. The site located about 60 miles west of Tallahassee is state-owned.

Bondi, however, pushed to get the agency that manages state lands to grant USF a one-year permit. Last week Scott and the three Cabinet members said they would support the request.