A series of journalistic coverages and lawsuits in the early 70's disclosed the Belchertown's unsanitary, overcrowded condition at some of the dorms where over 80-year-old residents lived with other 120 residents who were "mentally, all two-year-olds in the physical bodies of grown-ups."*
The school was closed in 1992. A talk of converting the complex into a "5-star living " spa surfaced in 2006, but even twenty years later, the site remains abandoned.
What is the power that institutionalizes people? Why is such authority dismantled now...or the structures are left derelict, but the system of institution became more invisible and more pervasive? What are the forces that led to the closure of the Belchertown and other countless institutions in the nation; benevolent efforts to place intellectually disabled persons into a community based care, frail of a large scale institutional care, or shift to private enterprise? Where did all the residents go after the closure? Do I know all the answers?
*Robert Hornick, The Girls and Boys of Belchertown. Amherst: U of Mass P, 84.
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