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The Dozier School for Boys

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The Dozier School for Boys, by Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray Ph.D., is a dispassionate and analytical examination of the disturbing events that transpired at the reform school during its 111 years. The institution was in operation between 1900-2011. With the investigation regarding claims of sinister activities continuing beyond its closure. Perhaps we should begin with the context relating to the institution. Prior to the establishment of the Dozier School for Boys, also known as The North Florida Youth Development Center (“NYFDC”). it was common place for children, found guilty of some misdemeanor or crime would be housed alongside adult men in penal institutions under the same harsh regimes. It was not unheard of for the juvenile inmate to become victims of the adult male prison population. There was little prospect of rehabilitation for the children as they lacked basic education, or of the opportunity to learn a trade. The school was created to reduce the negative outcomes of housing children with potential predators. Also with a view to reduce the recidivist rates and to reduce public expenditure through the creation of a reformatory.

Sadly, as Dr. Murray explains the initial high expectations quickly fell short. What began as an inspirational attempt at improving outcomes and reducing crime descended into Institutionalized, systematic abuse. Every horror occurred at the correctional institution from sexual exploitation, physical abuse, forced labor, and starvation of the inmates.


The Dozier School for Boys is a concise and scholarly work. It made for disturbing reading at times. There was some repetition and read as condescending at times. Dr. Murray’s writing style may suggest to some that she lacks empathy for her subject. I however suggest that she is being dispassionate by design, avoiding the natural reaction to make subjective assessments about the horrific events and abuses of the children. Eloquently written, supported by graphic eyewitness accounts; provide a view on the Reform School experiment that failed all of its goals.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I would like to thank Elizabeth A. Murray , NetGalley and Twenty-First Century Books TM (September 3, 2019) for affording me the opportunity to review The Dozier School for Boys: Forensics, Survivors,
and a Painful Past.
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This book was is a really short, quick read about the tragic abuse at a private school for boys.

This book could have been so good. It is based on interviews from boys who previously went to the school and some of the men who worked at the school.  

The book felt rushed. I wanted to learn more about the boy's lives at the school or the history of reform.  It just felt like the author wanted to get the book out as quickly as possible. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book for an honest review.
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After reading about this a few months ago I had looked into almost every book I could on this subject and I am thankful for Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this one. If you are looking for something on more history about the school and what happened, this is the book for you. A lot of history if you are interested in learning more about the school.
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley.

The Dozier School For Boys is the true story that inspired The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead...  
The book truly intrigued me.     The Dozier School was a place of nightmares, and it truly breaks my heart that those children suffered at the hands of adults.   It's horrible, and things like that should NEVER happen to children.  

The book was written well, but it definitely is difficult to read due to the subject matter.
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Fascinating insight into the little known horrors of this terrible time in history. Sometimes the text is dry and repetitive, but overall the subject matter is too much to ignore a few poorly written sentences.
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I certainly understand the importance of telling stories of abuse. Pretending these things don't happen re-victimizes people and sets us up for it to happen again. So it's vital to tell these stories. That being said, I'm not really sure about this particular book. For one thing, the tone is fairly dry. It reads like a term paper. It follows standard academic structure: statement, evidence, restate the thesis, conclusion. While that lends credibility to the text it doesn't make for particularly engaging reading. And I can't especially point to the the correct audience for it apart from use as a source for a paper.
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This book is an account of the true crimes committed at the Dozier school for boys in Florida. Built in 1900, the school was meant to reform boys convicted of crimes instead of putting them in the regular prison system with the adults. The boys alternated days between school and hard labor, with the idea that the school would become self-sustaining. A good idea in theory, but when not properly regulated punishment and abuse and even killings were routine.
The school was open for 111 years and only closed after a few brave survivors came forward with their stories and accusations. The interviews in this book are awful and heartbreaking. Although the book is informative, the accounts of the victims and the police and forensic information just seeing jumbled together and very poorly organized.
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I found this to be a solid introduction to the heartbreak and horror that was The Dozier School for Boys. For those looking for more information, there is an extensive bibliography at the end. My heart goes out to the brave men who came forward, and I hope the lessons learned will prevent other corrupt institutions from continuing to operate.
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Oh my little fledgling true crime fans will devour this book! Great topic for making available to young adults and will definitely raise a lot of questions for interesting discussions. While I felt the book struggled at first, either I adjusted as a reader or the book seemed to gain direction about a quarter of the way through. Finishing strong, the additional resources will give readers wanting to know more a few places to go for in depth information. I like the emphasis on forensics, but I would have also loved if the book had been a bit more personal and put us in the shoes of these boys.
It will definitely be added to our collection in the library!
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It was even better than I expected. I will be including it in an upcoming Book Riot piece on most anticipated upcoming titles.
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This is a book that my teenage self would have loved, and it was still quite a valuable read as an adult too. I've followed the Dozier School story for several years, and Dr. Murray's book provides an excellent and informative overview of the entire sad tale without being shocking or sensational. Would recommend for teens interested in true crime and adults new to the news story who would like a comprehensive and quick overview.

I received a digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.
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Dozier was built to reform children that had gotten in trouble with the law or were incorrigible. As it turned out it became a house of torture, rape, and abuse. Men that were boys there have had the courage to come forward and tell their stories. They're stories and experiences have left marks not only on their bodies but also psychologically. 
Their courage in coming forward has given them some peace but the memories will never be forgotten.
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This book suffers from not knowing what its target audience is. It gives in-text  definitions for very basic terms, yet seems geared for an adult audience. It's also poorly organized and lacks cohesion, detail, and context. It reads like a bad synopsis of police and scientific reports.
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This is the account of a sad event in history.  Young boys mostly from poor families were incarcerated in a juvenile facility often for no good reason.  They suffered mental and physical abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to protect and educate them.  Lack of hard evidence of the abuse resulted in no one being formally tried for these crimes.
The writing in the advanced copy contained redundancies and was not presented in the smoothest way, but the story was interesting.  I would rate it a 3.5.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Dozier School for Boys by Elizabeth A. Murray, PhD for an honest review. 

Like many, I am very into the "new" trend of True Crime stories. However, many of the ways I heard these stories were through television shows and podcasts, never books. So when I saw The Dozier School for Boys in the list of books on NetGalley, I knew that I had to give it a go. It was pretty much right up my ally, The Dozier School being the first of its kind, a reform school for juveniles. Previously, juveniles who committed crimes were housed with those of adults charged for the same thing, but The Dozier School changed that. The school allowed its boys to get an education, learn trades, and get them more prepared for life outside of their home. At least, that was what its creators intended it to be and shared with the State of Flordia. Though the boys did work, the hidden life of child labor, physical and psychological abuse among other horrible things were happening while those who lived by the school and heard rumors of what was actually happening turned a blind eye. 

It took an hour for me to complete the book and I was not disappointed with the information provided about the history, the short memory retelling, and the investigation made to finding out the truth. Though, for someone who has read many books of the horrors of 19th and 20th century Psychiatric Hospitals of the Northeast, the horrors Elizabeth A. Murray PhD writes about in her books leaves one emotional and questioning of how such a reformatory could be open for the 111 years that it was. Its sensitive information can and will trigger those who have been through such things outside of The Dozier School for Boys and I don't really believe that it should be considered a "Young Adult Novel." After all, unless the young adult was heavily into the True Crime genre or knew of the case, they wouldn't just pick the book up for a quick, fun read. Rather, it would be something read for a project or perhaps a review. It is that reason why I really cannot give 5 stars to this book.
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DNF at 46%

This is a story of the absolutely horrendous abuse that occurred at the Dozier School for Boys in Florida for over 100 years, something I had never even heard about. 

I was incredibly intrigued by this book, as this is a really tough topic to broach for a young audience, but could be really impactful and important. However, it really just didn't work for me. 

I found this book incredibly choppy, often jumping back and forth between time frames and the stories of various survivors, even going as far as repeating similar things MULTIPLE times, which was incredibly annoying to try to read. It also felt quite oversimplified. Considering that this appears to be targeted at a teen audience, there was far too much explanation of simple topics. For example, truancy was defined not once, but twice in the span of about 10 pages, and the "White House", where the boys often received their punishments, was labeled as so almost any time it was mentioned. It got to the point where it almost felt patronizing, like the author didn't trust the intelligence or memory of her audience, which was only slightly infuriating.

Generally, the first half felt very detached. I wasn't emotionally pulled into the stories, even when we were hearing eyewitness accounts. The writing felt far too academic to draw any sort of emotion, but also far too simple. Almost like the author didn't have any passion for what she was writing about, which I'm sure isn't true, but left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

All in all, I didn't like it and I'm really quite annoyed about it.
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Reading this non-fiction narative of the horrible long-lived "reform school" in Northern Florida once known as the Florida Industrial School was a stomach-churning experience, rendered all the more horrifying knowing that this wasn't a fictional work of extreme horror or "splatterpunk." This was 111 years of utter horror, humiliation, degradation, slavery, and rape, inflicted on children. It's impossible not to weep copious tears while reading, despite the author's calm and factual narrative.
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The Dozier School for Boys is very well written and accurate account of the atrocities that took place in this Boys correctional facility.  This book is not for the faint of heart.  I live about 150 miles from this school so it was all in our news when this broke.  I got the impression this was written for a younger age group but it is still very informative.
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Sad tale.  I don't even know where to begin...The parents/familes of these boys, schools, societies, laws.... What stories like these mostly tell me is that as societies, we really don't like children.  I really don't see how oversight of institutions can protect the abused, somehow, the folks responsible for preventing the abuse, get caught up in helping to perpetuate it in the long run. Just a really sad tale. Well, researched and well written.
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Excellent. Read it in one sitting. Being a native Floridian, and frequent visitor to the North Florida area, this book was especially interesting. I first heard about the Dozier School from a spot on NPR, and thought it would make a great book. So glad Dr. Murray took it upon herself to write so eloquently about a place with such a tragic history.
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