Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Gunnar Dybwad

Audio transcript: On the Partlow case, a landmark for deinstitutionalization litigation
Date: April 12, 2001
Interviewer: Fred Pelka

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

Were you involved in the Partlow case at all? The Wyatt case?


Could you talk a little about that?

The Partlow case is one of those things that is hard to discuss, because the conditions were so absolutely abnormal. What happened in that institution [Partlow State School and Hospital] was just beyond control! The residents had minimal services. There was no training. They were let loose in these day rooms, and of course, weaker ones were continually abused—sexually abused, and so on. The Partlow situation is really hard to discuss, and I have often indicated to the judges that common decency kept me from really discussing what was going on.

When were you first approached about Partlow?

I wouldn't know, but I was the first witness. I was the lead of witness in the case. That is where I made the statement that [pause] you couldn't possibly speak of "custodial care"—that was a famous statement by me—because custody, in the minimum, implied a sense of safety and security, and nobody in the institution was safe and secure. Who could personally speak of "custodial care?" This is, I think, a very shocking, but also a very pointed description of what was going on.

End of transcript

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