Maryland Agrees to Improve Facility for Retarded

Associated Press

The Justice Department won an agreement Thursday calling for improved conditions in Maryland's largest state-run mental health facility, the first settlement under legislation aimed at protecting the civil rights of the retarded.

The consent decree, entered in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, involves the nearly century-old Rosewood Center in Owings Mills, Md., which houses some 900 patients and has been the subject of a Justice Department investigation.

If approved by the court, the decree will resolve a suit brought by the department that charged "egregious and flagrant conditions" have existed at the Rosewood facility, the agency said.

The settlement agreement, involving Gov. Harry R. Hughes and other state officials, said steps will be taken to improve the ratio of doctors and other health professionals to patients and to improve patient evaluation and training programs for persons with "severe self-injurious or aggressive behavioral problems."

Assistant Atty. Gen. William Bradford Reynolds said that the decree was the first achieved by the department involving a mental retardation facility since enactment of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980.

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