A shocking story of "simple" lives in Iowa | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

A shocking story of "simple" lives in Iowa

March 10, 2014
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Deinstitutionalized: A horror story

An amazing story of endurance has come to light in a New York Times story called "The 'boys' in the bunkhouse," detailing the lives of intellectually disabled men who, in the 1960s, were offered an alternative to state institutions: a simple life of honest work in a thriving turkey processing plant.  

What happened next for these men was decades of physically punishing labor, miniscule wages, and living conditions not terribly far removed from those that Dorothea Dix criticized in the mid-19th Century. Yet the "program" in which they were "cared for" was a product of the 1960s thinking, sanctioned by government. Though working conditions for intellectually and developmentally disabled Americans are generally much better than these, it bears consideration that labor codes still allow payment of sub-minimum, substandard wages to individuals based not on their productivity, but on their status as disabled people. 




Dennis Grantham

Dennis Grantham



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