- Third world America: Bodies driven to a pauper’s burial in a U-Haul as tough economic times lead to more mass graves (Daily Mail, Jan. 19, 2012):
It’s a practice more closely associated with third world countries, but in bleak times in a Chicago-area suburb, 30 people were buried in a mass grave on Wednesday.
The pauper’s burial section at Homewood Memorial Gardens was established for those who could not afford to pay for a burial plot.
And it is a problem that’s sweeping America as tough economic times have led to an increase in the number of indigent burials the morgue must perform.
No mourners were present for the burial at the cemetery, which lies 25 miles south west of Chicago.
The gruesome discovery of the pauper’s burial section at Homewood was made last year, sparking a call for more strict federal regulations for cemeteries.
Sheriff’s officials had found caskets stacked on top of one another – some buried eight at a time – at Homewood.
And the morgue has been accused of missing markers and poor record keeping.
But coroners have said the practice is shared in other cities and states across the U.S.
Tony Cox, the legislative chairman and former president of the Illinois Coroners and Medical Examiners Association, earlier told the Chicago Sun Times other cities, including New York, follow similar mass burial procedures for those with limited options.
New York City Department of Corrections spokesman Stephen Morello referred to a burial site in Hart Island, New York, where 800,000 bodies lie.
Officials there, he said, follow the same procedure – stacking coffins with inmates’ remains three deep.
Mr Morello said stillborn babies and children are always buried in individual caskets. Those, too, are stacked on top of one another.
The National Funeral Directors Association has called the discovery at Homewood ‘troubling’, and called for more federal regulation over cemeteries.
Mr Cox, who also serves as the coroner in Downstate Gallatin County, said his office has avoided problems allegedly happening in Homewood.
He said cremation has also become more favoured in many cities and states, because it is less costly than a traditional burial.