There's a loud buzz going on in Oregon right now about notifying the public when a new secure group home is about to open. Many people believe they have a right to know if people having mental illness along with a criminal history move into their neighborhood. I have a strong desire to weigh in on this topic, and I'm choosing to do so here, on my blog.
I haven't heard virtually any discussion of people wanting to know when folks who DON'T have mental illness but have a criminal history move into their neighborhoods. As far as I know, a criminal is a criminal whether or not they have an accompanying disability. So what is the deal about the mental illness label? I believe it's prejudice holding hands with discrimination.
You still hear "God loving Americans" calling each other names (jokingly) like "retard", "nut case", and "psycho" on a regular basis. This demonstrates a blatant lack of understanding regarding disability. At the same time these same people who know nothing about disability are up in arms about criminals with disabilities moving in next door. To me, that is perpetuating the myth that there is something inherently WRONG with people who have disabilities. That's discrimination in its' purest form.
When people begin to cry out their demand to know of ALL the people in their community who have a criminal history, the playing field will be level. That will never happen. Why? Because that would be prejudicial and discriminatory, and we won't stand for that; right?