Crimes Against Humanity

The leaves on the maples were just beginning their colorful transformation in the fall of 1953, as Benjamin and Virginia Ricci stood with their six-year-old Bobby between them before the imposing administration building of Belchertown State School.  
Earlier examination of the Riccis’ firstborn son by a team of physicians at Boston’s Children Hospital had yielded the curt diagnosis: “Your son is mentally retarded.”
And since Bobby had been refused enrollment in the Amherst school system where the young family lived, the state school appeared to be the Riccis’ only option for their son’s education.
Dr. Benjamin Ricci

Taking each hand, the young parents walked Bobby up the ten granite steps of the administration building, an indelible memory now recounted in Benjamin Ricci’s book, Crimes Against Humanity – A Historical Perspective.
Once they were inside, a burly, white-uniformed woman told Ben and Virginia they wouldn’t be allowed to see their child for a full month.  It was standard policy.
“During these thirty days, your son will get to like it so much here, he may not want to go home again.  In a few years he may even forget you.”
And then –  without even a chance to say goodbye –  six-year-old Bobby Ricci disappeared into the bowels of the institution.
That indelible memory marked the beginning of Benjamin Ricci’s lifelong battle for the rights and protection of the mentally retarded citizens of Massachusetts, a crusade now recounted in his book, Crimes Against Humanity – A Historical Perspective.
Of the horrendous conditions he would later come to learn existed at Belchertown State, Ricci writes:
The sound of mournful wails, howling, and animal-like grunts filled the air.  Urine, feces, and food were smeared over many nude bodies, especially of persons in seclusion rooms … a female resident seeking bladder relief, awkwardly perched on the wall-mounted urinal … maggots wriggling inside or crawling out of the infected ears of several helpless, profoundly retarded persons while they lay in their crib-beds … the sheets caked with moist or caked vomit 
Crimes Against Humanity: A Historical Perspective, by Benjamin Ricci, the founder of Advocacy Network, is an unvarnished account of his lifelong battle to secure rights for the developmentally disabled citizens of Massachusetts.  Ben recalls the painful decision he and his wife made to place their six-year-old son at Belchertown State School in the 1950s, the horrific medieval conditions he discovered and exposed in that institution, and the hard-won, landmark federal court order to improve the lives of the developmentally disabled.

Crimes Against Humanity: 
A Historical Perspective

by Benjamin Ricci, iUniverse, Inc. 2004

This book is on the shelves of the United States Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  To order your own copy:

  • Ask your local bookstore to order the book for you
  • International orders: 
  Call 00-1-402-323-7800

Softbound ISBN: 0-595-30398-6
Hardcover ISBN: 0-595-66163-7

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