Student Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


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First Advisor

Edward F. Meehan


The existence of the Willowbrook State School was a culmination, of over a one-hundred-year history of Western society’s attempts to provide adequate care, and treatment for individuals with disabilities. The residents housed there, suffered violations of their human and civil rights in various forms of severe abuse, neglect, and violence. Following a three-year legal battle in 1975, as a result of the travesties that occurred, the legal doctrine known as the Willowbrook Consent Decree was written. The Consent Decree was implemented to ensure that the residents’ human and civil rights are met and protected. The Willowbrook State School and the Willowbrook Consent Decree have both positively influenced contemporary advocacy for individuals with disabilities, as models of failure and mistreatment and correction of these grave errors.



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