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Northampton Consent Decree

MAMH has been a pioneer and a national leader in the movement to ensure the rights of people with mental health conditions to live and work in integrated settings and to avoid unnecessary hospitalization. In 1975, MAMH joined with a group of patients at the Northampton State Hospital and with the Arc of Massachusetts to sue the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The case, Brewster v. Dukakis, was the first class action in the nation to claim that residents of a state hospital had a constitutional right to receive mental health services in the least restrictive environment. MAMH was represented by the Center for Public Representation, a long-time MAMH ally. The case was settled in 1978. The Northampton Consent Decree established the state’s first comprehensive community mental health system; nearly all the patients were relocated to community based programs and services and, eventually, the State Hospital closed.

Access the full consent decree here

Northampton Consent Decree