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John Bennett

In late 1966 I was sent to the Florida Industrial School for Boys at Marianna; also called the “Dozier School for Boys.”

I was sentenced to an “indeterminate amount of time”

Upon arriving at F.S.B., I was thrown into a world I never knew existed. It was a world where you had to be tough and hard. There were things in the world that I knew absolutely nothing about. It was a place in which I had no idea how to survive in.

I was beat by the other boys because I was soft. Everything that I had was stolen from me.

When I tried to fight back, I received “DR’s,” short for Disciplinary Report, until I found myself at the “White House.”

I knew from various rumors, as well as from the other boys, what it was, but I was not prepared for what I received! My rule infraction was the possession of “smoking material,” (three matches). For that infraction I received 17 licks with a steel reinforced leather strap on my buttocks, lower back and thighs.

In all, the year that I was there, I made three trips to the White House; one for having an extra pair of socks. The third and last trip was different from the rest. I went down for fighting, trying to protect my belongings from theft. I was taken to the White House in my briefs. After being told to lie on the bed and face the wall, I received 23 licks from Troy Tidwell, and told to stay put dur9ing the entire beating. There were several other boys waiting in line to be beaten also. I was then assaulted, I don’t know by whom, when I was facing the wall, my eyes closed. I suspect it was one of the other boys by order of a staff member!

I heard Mr. Tidwell say “okay, I’m done with him.” Then I was assaulted and hit in the head.

I was released in late 1967, one year later. I was totally ruined mentally.

I spent the next 17 years in and out of prison, bar fights, jail, assault and battery, aggravated assaults, failed marriages, and one bad move after another. It took me 20 years to come to peace with F.S.B. as well as with myself.

This is like tearing open an old wound for me, but one that I think needs to be opened and the stories told.

I was never released from F.S.B. through my own good merit, but rather by a court order. My parents hired a lawyer and my sentence was finally set aside. I was not read my rights; it was not done at the time. If not for this I don’t know how, when or if I would have regained my freedom.

At the time of my release I was “Grub Zero,” the lowest rank in the system. The system was set up to punish you and certainly not to have you succeed.

As an alternative to corporal punishment F.S.B. had a confinement cottage. This cottage set up on a hill, past the visiting area. It was divided in to small cells made up of tile and concrete, including the bed. It had large, bright lights in the ceiling which kept the room blindly illuminated 24 hours a day. A small opening in the door was your only outlet to the outside world. Through this hole two times a day you were fed a frightening concoction of undistinguishable vegetable material affectingly known as “Zuzza soup.” It was named after the psychotherapist in charge of alternative treatment. This soup was surely drugged as you stayed in a lethargic state, the entire time you were confined, sometimes up to four to six weeks.

I had the extreme displeasure of visiting punitive confinement on two separate occasions.

My first infraction was breaking line in the chow hall. The second time was for stealing a set of car keys from the hospital, belonging to Dr. Wexler. He is the man that broke my finger with a lead x-ray pad, for no reason, whatsoever, while ex-raying my hand for a possible fracture. And so it went; between the White House, campus brutality and punitive confinement pretty much sums up my stay at F.S.B.

John Bennett
Aka; Howard O. Burke Jr.
Monroe Cottage