- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2017

Up to 7,000 bodies on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus reportedly will need to be exhumed and reburied to make way for new construction.

The dead are former patients of Insane Asylum, the state’s first mental institution, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

The graves are spread across 20 acres of the university’s campus that officials hope to use to expand the school.

The plan is to exhume and rebury each body and build alongside it a proposed memorial, visitor’s center and lab used to study the remains of the bodies.

“We have inherited these patients,” Dr. Ralph Didlake, who oversees the hospital’s Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, told The Clarion-Ledger. “We want to show them care and respectful management.”

Built in 1855, the asylum allowed for slightly better care for those suffering from mental illness, which at its peak housed 6,000 patients.

Before the asylum, the mentally ill were usually held in chains in jails or attics, Dr. Luke Lampton, chairman of the Mississippi Board of Health, told the newspaper.

“It would be a unique resource for Mississippi,” Molly Zuckerman, associate professor in the university’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, told the Clarion-Ledger. “It would make Mississippi a national center on historical records relating to health in the pre-modern period, particularly those being institutionalized.”

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