Researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) traveled in 2012 to Marianna, a small panhandle town in Gadsden County. Their destination was the Florida School for Boys — a shuttered juvenile residential facility that was the focus of recent investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the federal Department of Justice.
There, using ground penetrating radar, the researchers made a grim discovery: more than 50 grave shafts were uncovered in the woodlands surrounding the school’s Boot Hill cemetery, where 31 white, metallic crosses stand.
USF researchers returned to the campus in August with a permit issued by the Florida Cabinet giving them permission to excavate the site and examine any bodies they discovered. By early September, excavators had found the remains of two boys, one buried just 18 inches under the soil.
A group of former residents of the Marianna campus, who call themselves the “White House Boys,” allege that many more bodies remain buried at the site.
While excavation efforts continue at the Marianna school, hundreds of White House Boys have spoken out about their experiences at the facility. They tell stories of heinous beatings, molestations and even the murder of their friends — memories that remain haunting, ever-present reminders of their stay at one of the nation’s most notorious juvenile facilities.
The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange recently met with several White House Boys, men now in their 50s, 60s and 70s who are still impacted, and united, by their experiences at the Florida School for Boys.
These are the stories of their painful pasts, and their ongoing efforts to right the wrongs of yesterday.