Sen. Nelson Calls State’s Refusal to Issue Dozier Permits “A Dodge”

TAMPA – Researchers at the University of South Florida responded to the state Monday, asking that they reconsider their decision to deny issuing permits needed to exhume human remains from an untold number of unmarked graves at the now-defunct Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

“USF researchers are not at Dozier to get ideas for a journal article, but to return lost human remains to their families,” the school’s chief lawyer wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner earlier Monday.

In asking the state to reconsider its decision denying the permits, school officials challenged the state’s interpretation of Florida law saying “it appears that you have misunderstood: (1) the nature of Dozier burial grounds; (2) the discoveries made by USF researcher at the Dozier burial grounds; and (3) The Division’s jurisdiction under Florida law in light of those discoveries.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who has been advocating for the investigation since his office received requests for help from family members last year, was in Tampa earlier today and asked by reporters there for his reaction to the school’s latest move.

“The state has ample authority here,” Nelson said. “Their refusal to issue the permits is just a dodge. The response by USF makes hash out of the state’s position.”