A bill has been reported and committed to Finance Committee of New York State Senate on June 6th that would allow marking headstones and otherwise memorialize interred patients at Willard (and other cemeteries). It would allow for names, dates to be released 50 years after the death of patients. This would allow burials up to 1962.
A comparable bill was introduced into the Assembly as well. The Assembly bill has been referred to Committee on Mental Health June 12. Bill numbers: Senate S6805-2011; Assemble bill A 10636-2011.
The proposed legislation would allow the Committee overseeing the Willard Cemetery to begin marking previously unmarked graves on the site to memorialize the deceased. The bill is intended to walk the fine line between patient confidentiality and the desire to remember those who passed away while residing at the former Mental Health Hospital.
Colleen Kelly Spellecy, Chair of the cemetery project says, “I am hoping that there would be some major publicity on moving these bills forward and opposing any squelching power by Office of Mental Health.”