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New State Law Ensures Kinder, Gentler Terms for Developmentally Challenged

New Jersey’s showing new respect for people with developmental disabilities. A shore-sponsored state measure got Governor Christie’s signature Wednesday.

Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-11) sponsored the bill that replaces potentially-derogatory terms in state statutes with more respectful language. “Lunatic,” “insane,” “unsound mind” and “incompetent” are among the terms being replaced with less pejorative references.

“It’s time to bring New Jersey’s statues into the 21st Century,” she said in a prepared release. “Updating our archaic statutes is a good first step in helping to foster change in the public’s attitudes toward individuals with disabilities.”

The measure also introduces first-person languange in reference to people with mental incapacity, in an attempt to emphasize dignity, value, individuality and capabilities.

Angelini is also the Chief Executive Officer of Monmouth-based Prevention First, the youth behavioral and anti-drug support agency that evolved from the Alcoholism Council of Monmouth County, formed in 1967.

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