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Scores of Deaths, No Investigations

After searching its files for seven months, the D.C. Department of Human Services, the municipal custodian of D.C.'s retarded wards, was able to document that 69 of approximately 1,190 retarded individuals in its care died between January 1993 and September 1999. A Post investigation identified 47 additional wards who died during that time. The Post also found evidence of delayed treatment, neglect, falsification of circumstances, and other lapses in 34 cases – well over one-third.

NOTE: Studies of the mortality of the mentally retarded in community programs have found that a surge in the death rate is common in the first year after deinstitutionalization. In order provide the least inflated analysis of death in the District in the 1990s, the Post studied deaths that occurred from January 1993, 14 months after the closing of Forest Haven, to September 1999.

Invisible Deaths: The Fatal Neglect of D.C.'s Retarded

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© 1999 The Washington Post Company

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