Intensive monitoring and a watchful judge could improve the still unaccountable and dysfunctional D.C. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Administration. D.C. employees-for-life seem to have little motivation to oversee care and great latitude in giving and maintaining contracts to unethical businesses paid to care for our most vulnerable residents.

I was the court monitor in the D.C. Village Nursing Home case. Many of the D.C. Village residents had mental retardation, mental illness and other disabilities. The District agency was a defendant in the lawsuit brought by the Justice Department over the violation of the civil rights of the District's long-term-care residents.

Nothing in the Nov. 29 front-page article "4 Deaths in D.C. Group Homes Raise Concerns About Neglect" was new. In my reports nearly 10 years ago I made the same recommendations we hear now. The Post's Katherine Boo later won a Pulitzer Prize for her chronicle of unexamined deaths in these group homes.

The D.C. Village Nursing Home case made judicial history for its swift completion and restoration of residents' rights. Two elements were key: on-site, proactive monitoring and constant contact with Judge Thomas F. Hogan. But as Judge Hogan reminded us, this is not the court's job; protecting our most vulnerable is the agency's responsibility. There is a malaise and a self-serving pathology in D.C. government. Bureaucrats occupying space without competence and professionalism should be dismissed. This is a matter of integrity and public trust.

I saw appalling abuse of our most vulnerable and poor in our nation's capital, but we were able to improve care at D.C. Village Nursing Home. It is a matter of will -- political will.

HARRIET A. FIELDS

Washington

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As a D.C. resident who happens to have a disability, I'm angry that the death toll of people with disabilities under the District's "care" continues to mount. As a D.C. resident I feel my tax dollars were responsible.

Where is the outcry? Is it because these victims remain nameless and faceless that those that have committed these crimes go blameless?

Why have these redacted lives ended with a redacted report? Where is the transparency when it comes understanding how and why these individuals died? Where is accountability? Where is the shame?

This nation was horrified by the abuse in Iraq. Where is our horror when it happens in our own cities?

MOIRA M. SHEA

Washington