In the 1970s, a TV reporter took a hidden camera into a school for children with disabilities in New York. Parents thought their children would get treatment there. But the reporter’s investigation told a different story. He showed video footage of children crowded together in filth. Some didn’t have clothes. They were neglected and abused. Some of the children had been intentionally infected with Hepatitis. “We have a situation that borders on a snake pit,” said Robert Kennedy after he visited the place in 1965.
The country was shocked. After the story came out, the parents of the children filed a lawsuit against the state, and Congress passed civil rights laws to protect people with disabilities. They closed places like Willowbrook. They created the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system to make sure that this abuse never happened again. Disability Rights NC is the P&A for North Carolina. We visit and watch the places where people with disabilities live and work to make sure that they are safe and treated well.
Learn more about the Willowbrook State School and the P&A system:
Our Organization’s History
North Carolina’s P&A was a unit of state government (the Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities) for 30 years, until it merged with the former Carolina Legal Assistance in 2007 to become a private, independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since that time, DRNC has continued to fight for the rights of people with disabilities in North Carolina.