Editorial: Apology to abused patients is right

Published 8:45 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Good. It’s about time.

The state Legislature, near the end of the session, apologized to the thousands of patients who were abused or treated poorly in state institutions going back to 1866, according to a story on MinnPost.com.

The patients in the institutions suffered from various mental and developmental disabilities.

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While it is fitting that this apology comes, it is somewhat bittersweet because the downside is that it took the Legislature 13 years to finally heed this request.

MinnPost reported Rick Cardenas of Advocating for Change Together pushed for the apology for each of the 13 years. The group advocates for civil rights on behalf of disabled people.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, when signing the apology, apologized again, saying the measure colors over the actions of many state employees who were taking actions based on what they knew at the time.

Admitting the treatment was wrong was so difficult because of fears over making the state vulnerable in court.

Patients were given lobotomies, forced to be sterilized, forced to work without pay and given shock treatments, among other brutal acts, according to MinnPost.com.

However, apologizing was the right thing to do. Even if it was a somewhat watered-down apology.

And too many times at the state Capitol, the right thing to do isn’t what happens.