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Abuse Cited at States' Mental Facilities

April 02, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A Senate panel released a report Monday on the treatment of patients at state mental institutions, citing fear, intimidation, violence and secrecy at many of the facilities.

"The self-serving actions of many states and full retreat of the federal agencies has stifled the screams and abandoned the ill," said Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. (R-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources subcommittee on the handicapped.

The report, from a six-month investigation, said that in addition to providing little treatment other than prescribed medication, "many facilities visited by (the) Senate staff fail to maintain decent living conditions."

It criticized the Justice Department for failure to take prompt action against unfit facilities under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.

William Bradford Reynolds, assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights, said that the Justice Department has begun investigations of 14 mental hospitals and 11 facilities for the mentally retarded since the act was passed in 1980. Three have resulted in consent decrees to halt violations, and 11 are still open, he said.

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