More images from a past that refuses to die!
Sunland as it appeared in its dying days.
Buildings can also die of old age. Sunland Hospital was no exception. As funding was cut to divert to other priorities, the hospital went into a steady decline. When it was closed in the 1980s, it rapidly became overgrown with vines and started to crack and crumble.
Child abuse was just one of the complaints alleged against Sunland.
How much of the controversery was "abuse" or "neglect," and how much of it was just the kids unfortunate appearance? To a stranger walking into the hospital, unaccustomed to typical distortions of retardation, seeing handicapped and malformed children for the first time must have been horrifying. After all, such children were rarely seen in public, but carted off and hidden away in places like Sunland. It's easy to imagine why someone might suspect gross mistreatment based on seeing a swollen forehead (a medical condition from retardation), or spider-like legs (which is normal for paralyzed legs that can't exercise). At the same time, there is no denying that many patients died at the old hospital-- either of natural causes or otherwise-- during the course of its operation, or that limited resources resulted in substandard treatment.
Overcrowding was a common complaint of Sunland. Some also balked about the enclosed cribs, which were basically cages.
As gossip about abuse at Sunland spread, it soon became a political football. As long as the kids were out of sight, they were out of mind. But once disturbing photos and lawsuits involving the handicapped children started popping up in newspaper columns, politicians started to scurry about in search for another solution to the warehousing of the retarded at Sunland.
Gov. Claud Kirks passes one of the incapacitated kids during a tour of Sunland.
Sunland was closed in 1983, and its inmates were shipped to other facilities. Today, the large institutions have been replaced by sending the unwanted mentally disabled to private homes managed by smaller health care companies and paid for by taxpayers. All that remains now of the once infamous "Warehouse of the Unwanted" is at Sunland Asylum, a grim reminder of its dark and controversial past.
Gov. Claud Kirks inspects the controversial hospital and one of the unresponsive children. Modified crib cages line the background.
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