FL Closes Scandal-Plagued Unit for Boys, Once Largest U.S. Reform School


A Florida-run school for boys that has eluded closure for more than a century despite chronic scandal, is closing June 30 after 111 years of operation, reports the Miami Herald. The Department of Juvenile Justice informed 185 employees of the school's fate yesterday and is preparing to move its remaining 63 young detainees to other facilities as it ceases operations at what was once the largest reform school in the U.S., 60 miles west of Tallahassee.

The notorious program has gone by different names since it was founded in 1900, but one thing has been consistent: Boys have gone in damaged and come out destroyed. “Wow, it's great to see that shop of horrors shut down,” said Robert Straley, 64, one of the original five known as the “White House boys.” “It was the worst thing the state of Florida ever did, and to think that they let this go on so long is just unbelievable.” The state says the school is closing as part of its reform plan to shift money from residential oversight to “front-end” services like prevention, electronic monitoring and community-based services. Child advocate Jack Levine credited juvenile justice chief Wansley Walters for the move.

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