Austin State School - Farm Colony (better known as the Travis State School) was a living center that was operated as a farm colony, work facility, and educational facility for the mentally retarded citizens of Texas operating from 1933 to 1996 for which in part was totally operated by Texas Mental Health Mental Retardation (TX MHMR & Texas Board of Control) via Texas Government. The institution taught the mentally retarded how to be self-sufficient. Travis State School itself was located at FM 969 and Decker Lane 8 miles east of Downtown Austin located near the Colorado River.
A Texas State Legislature meeting was held for a decision on what to rename the Austin State School. It was due to reforms in healthcare along with mental health that the name of this institution was changed. To reflect this change, Austin State School - Farm Colony was renamed to Travis State School in January 1961. The farming operations did not cease due to mental health care reforms in the 1960's due to popular belief as many believed.
Farming operations at the facility slowly ceased in January 1961 due to the fact that the farm colony was a total failure. The farm colony could not produce enough to maintain for the patients at the institutions. Farming operations ceased due to lack of attention and criminal negligence. Despite that, the farming colony operated until 1974.
The reasons why Austin State School - Farm Colony ceased operations was due to revisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1974 and the oil recession of the 1970s that greatly effected the United States economy.
Texas Government discovered the free labor residents and inmates provided was considered somewhat exploitive especially for the high functioning residents. High functioning residents were assigned to take care of low functioning residents. The State of Texas could not afford to pay residents and inmates as workers. So residents and inmates worked for free This in turn was a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1974.
The courts ruled in 1974 residents and inmates in these institutions run by the State of Texas (federal, state-run, or otherwise) were entitled to protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This was a tragedy for some of the residents and inmates residing in these institutions. They had no sense of purpose and had idle time sitting on the ward. Despite that, state run programs were still readily available.
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