California Historical Landmarks in San Joaquin County
California Historical Landmark 1016
Stockton Developmental Center
510 East Magnolia Street
The Stockton Developmental Center was established in 1853 as the Insane Asylum of California, the first of several state asylums. Stockton's founder, Charles M. Weber, donated half of the 100 acre site. It was one of the first facilities of its kind in the western U.S. and played a major role in developing California's mental health system. In the early 1970's, the focus of the center shifted from treating patients with mental disabilities to training people with developmental disabilities. This served to spearhead the movement to provide services outside the institutional setting. The Stockton Developmental Center was closed in 1996.
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 1016
Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Stockton Developmental Center, State Department of Developmental Services, May 17, 1996.
Historical markers can conceal as much as they reveal. I find this especially true of California historical markers which tend to the upbeat and uplifting. As President Ronald W. Reagan said: "Trust, but verify."
The Stockton Developmental Center marker contains this disingenuous statement: "In the early 1970's, the focus of the center shifted from treating patients with mental disabilities to training people with developmental disabilities. This served to spearhead the movement to provide services outside the institutional setting."
This "change in focus" was mandated by Califonia law in 1967. Many Californians consider this legislation to be the primary cause of urban homelessness.
In 1967, California passed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act which limited involuntary detention of all but the most gravely mentally ill. The act was authored by Assemblyman Frank Lanterman, Senator Nicholas C. Petris and Senator Alan Short and signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan.
Although progressive Californians are likely to tell you that Ronald Reagan caused homelessness and conservative Californians are likely to tell you that the ACLU caused homelessness, according to the Los Angeles Times "the bill was pushed primarily by a group of young, liberal activists on the Assembly Office of Research staff. It was sold to Democrats as a civil-rights measure and sold to Governor Ronald Reagan as a savings. Community care, without the long-term costs of custodial care in state hospitals, would cut California's mental health care costs."