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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

#NoModernAsylum: NCIL Statement Against “Modern” Asylums

Many of you may be aware of two recent articles promoting a return to institutions for individuals with mental health disabilities and intellectual and developmental disabilities (“Improving Long-term Psychiatric Care: Bring Back the Asylum” in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and “The Modern Asylum” in the New York Times. Both of these articles recognize the extremely concerning rates of incarceration, homelessness, and hospitalization among individuals with disabilities; however, they operate on the extremely misguided premise that a return to institutions will somehow solve this problem.

NCIL, along with many other disability organizations who have been speaking out, know this argument is deeply flawed. Repeatedly, research and experience has shown that people live longer and better lives in the community. No past or future asylum had, or will have, the ability to provide the same level of individualized support. The high incidence of the problems mentioned in these articles points not to a need for reinstitutionalization, but rather it serves as a call to action to strengthen and fund the supports and services that individuals with disabilities receive in the community.

The disability community has loudly expressed our opposition with letters to the editor, public statements, and the Twitter hashtag #NoModernAsylum. Discontent with the current system does not mean it is time to return to a previously failed model. It is extremely disturbing that decades into the fight for deinstitutionalization, 25 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and 16 years after the Olmstead decision, the disability community is still facing these unfounded, misguided attempts to lock us away.

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