Out of the Shadows - The Legacy of Pineland Logo
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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.

Yellowed paper with staple holes and tape marks at top, titled "Client Rights" and listing the rights that clients have, including privacy, personal property, and access to advocates
Into the Community

The transition from institutional to community living and care was not easy for many Pineland residents, nor was it easy for those setting up and trying to operate housing and various services.

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."

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.

Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Evening Journal, February 2, 1963 – Black and white photo of basement room with mats on cement floor, ladder on wall
Staffing Problems and Failing Infrastructure

Staffing issues and high turnover was a constant refrain in the mid-1960’s in Maine’s institutional system. In 1965 it was determined that Maine’s turnover rate in this industry was twice the national average.

Newspaper clipping from the Lewiston Evening Journal, January 10, 1951 – Headline: Pownal Incidents ‘Exceptions’ – Payne
New Charges of Abuse and Neglect

A Visiting Committee in 1951 cited cruel and abusive treatment, including excessive use of straightjackets, euphemistically known as "camisoles," and physical punishments. Superintendent Peter Bowman reported that some patients had been "scalded, beaten, and sexually abused in the recent past." But, Bowman stressed, most employees were caring and tried to do the best for residents – but were hampered by inadequate facilities, and staff shortages.

Another Investigation

The Maine Federation of Women's Clubs expressed concerns about conditions at state institutions and found overcrowding, staff shortages, and inadequate food and clothing.

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Expansion Continues

While the patient population would peak in the 1930s at around 1,500, Superintendent Kupelian would continue to advocate for expanding the numbers of residents - asking the public to support funding for up to 9,000 total patients.