From the Amherst Bulletin
By Suzanne Wilson
Thursday, May 21, 2010
It’s a safe bet that no one who lived in this area in the 1970s and 1980s was unaware of the program called deinstitutionalization. The mouthful of a term referred to the decision to end the long-accepted practice of warehousing people with mental disabilities in institutions such as the Belchertown State School and Northampton State Hospital, which were all too often overcrowded, understaffed, filthy and bleak.
The closings of those institutions and others like them across the state and around the country – bitterly opposed by some – represented a seismic shift in attitudes about the meaning of humane treatment of people with disabilities.
Also be sure to check out the Center for Human Development, which like other local agencies such as ServiceNet and the Hampshire Educational Collaborative were created or expanded during the Decentralization movement.