In order to challenge the system of neglect and discrimination that people with disabilities face, the Peer Self-Advocacy (PSA) Program of Disability Rights California, the California Network of Mental Health Clients (CNMHC) and People First of California and other peer organizations and people with lived experience advocated for change.
As a result of their efforts, Senator Wesley Chesbro sponsored legislation (Senate Bill 1448 and Senate Bill 258) to support the disability community and address the deplorable conditions of the gravesites at the state institutions and public cemeteries where individuals were buried.
This legislation required the State Department of Mental Health, other state agencies and a task force representing persons with disabilities to:
- Identify the names of the people who were buried at state hospitals and developmental centers, including those whose remains were donated for medical research;
- Identify the location of all gravesites at existing state hospitals and developmental centers;
- Develop a plan for the restoration of these cemeteries and gravesites at state hospitals and developmental centers;
- Seek funding from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, in addition to any other available resources that may be available to the departments, excluding General Fund moneys, to restore, purchase, preserve and memorialize the gravesites at Napa State Hospital;
- Develop a protocol for the future interment of people who die while residing at a state hospital or developmental center and are unclaimed by a family member.