"YOU STRETCH ON THE BED, THEN THE WHIP FALLS" By Joy Reese Shaw Herald Staff Writer  |  Posted June 30, 2012  


Here is an article written in the late 50's or early 60's by a reporter that got her story right. What a shame that nothing was done to prevent the illegal flogging of children by the State of Florida that went on for 45 years after it was banned by Governor Hardee as too brutal a punishment for hardened adult convicts
when young Martin Tabert was flogged to death by the whipping boss, Walter Higginbotham. 

As this brutal punishment not only goes against all reason, not to mention the guide-lines sent forth by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and the National Association of Training School and Juvenile Agencies, one has to wonder how there could be any statute of limitations that would protect the perpetrators of these crimes, no matter of the passage of time. RWS  END COMMENT

Written under a series of articles named: "PATTERNS OF DELINQUENCY" 

"Twenty five lashes with a leather whip is not uncommon punishment at Florida's reform school at Marianna." Joy Reese Shaw explains why it happens and how easily "last-resort" floggings could be eliminated.


By Joy Reese Shaw
Herald Staff Writer

MARIANNA: The kids call it The White House 

It is not on the tour and it seems somehow incongruous here on this tree-studded site which looks like a college campus than a school for delinquents. 
Nobody likes to talk about what goes on inside --and when they do the sting of the whip seems to split through the words.

The White House is the place of punishment. FDA--Final Disciplinary Action. "They make you stretch out on a bed, face down....and hold on tight with your arms above your head. Then they lay on the leather," one boy explained. "It's a whip with a handle. I got 25 lashes." 

The name White House is misleading--for what goes on there is not very noble or according to national standards set up for institutions serving delinquent children.

So is the term FDA, The action is not very final. 

Says "Guides and Goals," prepared by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and the National Association of Training School and Juvenile Agencies.

"Corporal punishment should not be tolerated in any form. This includes slapping, spanking, belting or any kind of physical abuse." 

In less than 11 months, Lonnie S. received Final Disciplinary Action seven times. Lonnie is a Miami boy sent up for bicycle theft. His father was in jail for drunkenness. His mother, bewildered, inept, lonely. Foster home care has been denied. Lonnie's local record indicates epilepsy and an IQ of 74 to 81. 

He was whipped for persistent misbehavior, fighting, profanity, agitating other children, throwing a bottle of catsup. 

Oddly, there were exactly seven days between Lonnie's first two whippings and Oct. 19 and 26, 1962, and between his last two, Nov. 4 and 11, 1963. They do not appear to have been highly effective. 

An estimated 40 to 50 percent receive a whipping at one time or another. 

But this is not intended as an "expose" of corporal punishment at Marianna. Rather it is intended to relate an important question: Is Florida defeating it's purpose in juvenile rehabilitation by being too shortsighted to spend money? 

"Guides and Goals" recommends a limit of 150 children in a state training school. Marianna, a completely open door institution is jammed with 830. It only has 10 detention rooms. 

For the last four sessions of the legislature Marianna has requested a security detention building, and been denied. It would cost $198,320.00 to end the floggings. The security building could be the substitute. 

Comment by R. Straley 

Note: In a letter Dated Feb. 13, 1946 to Mr. Roy L. McLaughlin, Superintendent of the Connecticut School For Boys, Arthur G. Dozier, Superintendent of FSB Stated:  "We are faced with a building program and among the things included is a secure unit for juveniles which I expect to attempt to persuade the "powers that be" is not desirable for this institution."  

In plain language, given a job of building a secure unit, Arthur G. Dozier had no intention of doing so as he favored flogging the boys instead. In the same letter he states:  "We dispensed with confinement in any form as a disciplinary measure in this institution but have retained corporal punishment as a measure in certain cases." 

As the reporter stated: An estimated 40 to 50 percent receive a whipping at one time or another. I feel this was a pretty accurate statement. The flogging could have been stopped, but was supported over the years by men like Arthur G. Dozier. His name should be removed from the institution.

The Miami News, March 6, 1958: A study made of 250 white boys committed at one time to Marianna 
showed that at that point been given 691 whippings among them. Eleven year old boys received 260 or 
38% of the beatings, and 17-year-old boys receive 21, or 3%. The older the boy, the fewer the beatings he 
received, records of the school showed at that time.