Friday, February 27, 2015

Unpublished Letter to the Editor of the New York Times Regarding Op-Ed "The Modern Asylum"

**A long, drawn out version - my own op-ed - is currently in submission to a publication and will not be released on here if it is accepted, but rather linked.**

To the Editor

I am writing in concern about the recent op-ed, “The Modern Asylum.” It must be noted that institutions do not provide an adequate response to the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Institutionalization is not cost-efficient, as statistics provided by Disability Rights Washington show; “investing in a robust home and community based system is an efficient use of limited resources, because it will free up money that is currently being used to maintain institutions.”1

Studies and reports have shown that patients respond better to outside placement, including ones from the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services State of Delaware and the University of Minnesota.2 It is vital that disabled people be given a chance to create their own initiatives outside of institutions.

It is unwise to to insist deinstitutionalization has failed, because it has never been undertaken effectively; states are still funding institutions, though on a smaller scale, and not contributing enough money to properly intregrate people despite proven benefits.3 It cannot be implied that institutions worked and write that “modern asylums” need to return. It is better to shift fully to community integration, the resources for which have not been fully implemented; institutions are neither cost-efficient, nor beneficial to the people locked within their walls. In institutional settings, rates of abuse within current systems still run rampant.4

Total asylums and institutions are a horrifying specter from the past, and cannot return.


Kit Mead
Disability Advocate

2 Conroy, J., Garrow, J. (2003). Initial outcomes of community placement for the people who moved from Stockley Center (Delaware).

Kim, S., Larson, S.A., and Larkin, K.C. (1999). Behavioral outcomes of deinstitutionalization for people with intellectual disabilities: A review of studies conducted between 1980 and 1999. Policy Research Brief (University of
Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration), 10(1)

4  Maureen Crossmaker, “Behind Locked Doors – Institutional Sexual Abuse,” Sexuality and Disability 9, no 3, (1991) 201-219

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