Out of the Shadows - The Legacy of Pineland Logo
Smaller Budgets and Bigger Waitlists

The second decade of the 21st century ushered in big changes to state government. An economic downturn and a new administration ushered in alongside others in an austerity-based, small government movement led to budget cuts and staffing freezes at the Department of Human Services. Over this decade, waitlists for services exploded, especially for Section 21 services, which serve those who need daily support to live full lives.

History Policies
New System, Old Problems

Despite a growing understanding that community-based services were a better choice for individuals than institutionalization, switching from a consolidated and hierarchical system to one of many service providers helping smaller numbers of clients follow personalized plans for success was difficult, and the path forward had many hurdles to overcome.

A photo of a round pinback slogan button, with the words “PINELAND CENTER” around the top edge in black, the dates “1908” and “1996” around the bottom edge in red, and a drawing of a yellow key with the number “709” on it. Peeking out from under the button is the bottom of a house key.
New Problems and The Closing of Pineland

Despite all the systems in place to ensure compliance, problems arose. New criticisms of inadequate funding, staff shortages, not enough community options, lack of proper oversight of persons moved into the community, and other non-compliance led to another lawsuit. In the meantime, the state had decided to close Pineland.

Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, November 19, 1983 – Right side of clipping has two black and white photos of people with developmental disabilities, on left one sitting on a stationary bike and on right two people next to a telescope, one looking through the eyepiece, with the caption: “Jimmy McGuigan, left, exercises while at right Skip Farrington, left, and Roger Raymond check out a telescope.” Headline: Their Goal: To Join Society
Oversight and Protecting Rights

Neville Woodruff, the lawyer who represented Pineland residents in the lawsuit, threatened new suits against Pineland saying, “They are very far behind in three major areas - staffing, quality of programs, and staff training.” Court Master Gregory was critical of the lack of improvements at Pineland as well, saying residents were “still just being kept. Life for them is purposeless."

Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, November 23, 1976 – Headline: Zitnay Urges Improved Services for Retarded
New Policy Directions

The years while the lawsuit worked its way through the courts were marked by much upheaval and many changes at Pineland. Many policies were beginning to be implemented in order to give Pineland residents more autonomy, choice, and opportunities.

Black and white photo of an indoor swimming pool with a ramp that goes into it, and a woman pushing another woman into the pool in a wheelchair
New Ideas, Dignity, and Fears

Change and reform were in the air at Pineland, but despite some new ideas and improvements, problems continued.

Staff Pressures and More Money for Institutions

On the ballot in 1969 was a referendum bond issue for $2.5 million in funds to “enlarge and improve” institutions, which passed by a large margin. Complaints brought by staff around pay and hours were also addressed.

Cover of Maine Times, January 31, 1969, with the headline "Maine's Snakepit". A black and white picture of a barefoot young girl hunched over in a wooden chair in front of a tile wall
More Evidence of Abuse and Neglect

A Maine Times exposé in 1969 revealed overcrowding, residents with inadequate clothing, staff shortages, and deteriorating facilities. Another exposé, in The Church World in 1972 found similar problems.

Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act – Federal Law

Congress passes the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments, which would create funding for both services for children with disabilities and grants to “plan for and take other steps leading to comprehensive State and community action to combat mental retardation”.

Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Daily Sun, February 16, 1961, page 1 – Headline: Pineland Is Aiding The State – Dr. Bowman Tells of Rehabilitation at Pownal Hospital – Needs More Help
Community Placement Calls for a Larger Institution?

New ideas were cropping up - it was beginning to be understood that services provided in the community were both more humane and less expensive. But even as a new infirmary to “house 134 totally dependent patients” was dedicated, Governor Reed called for more, saying, “the needs of this and other state hospitals continue to grow".