Monday, November 16, 2009

Lessons of Willowbrook

If history teaches us anything, it is not to repeat the mistakes of the past. New York Governor David A. Paterson’s recent directive to reduce state allocation to the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) by 10 percent is a chilling reminder that what’s old is new again.
A half century ago NYS was lauded for it’s efforts in supporting individuals with development disabilities in what at the time were considered state of the art facilities such as Willowbrook.
We all know what happened in that infamous institution when the State repeatedly cut back on its funding. The state of the art became a state of despair and thousands of people were forced to live in sub-human conditions.
Cuts of the magnitude proposed by Paterson will surely lead us down a similar path unless more reasoned voices prevail.

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