Skip to comments.Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill
Posted on 07/20/2011 4:55:43 PM PDT by Jean2
Can anyone tell me who was responsible for the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill? I have heard various people claim it was done by Jerry Brown and otehrs say it was Ronald Reagan.
Who do you think would demand that mentally ill people be released from their “incarceration”?
I always thought it was the ACLU.
Mainly the ACLU (and groups like them). They launched a bunch of lawsuits that forced the state to release “non-violent” mentally ill people. Eventually the state mental wards were so underpopulated, they were just closed. This is where you hear liberals blame Reagan for releasing them. The reality is that there was pretty much no one in them by the time Reagan closed them (when he was governor of California, not when he was president).
They now make up the majority of the democrat caucus.
Jean2, I don’t know the complete answer. Years ago, I spent a few years in the MRDD field, and heard of newspaper stories regarding an institution we have here in OH, called The Orient. At the time, it was a horrible place for those with diagnoses ranging through the MR and mental health fields. The stories caused such a furor that, as I heard it, the population were turned out, to live in the community, which is where the firm I once worked for came to be. I’m sure some of the more illustrious freepers have more info than me. Anyway, I hope that that helps, at least a bit.
This led to a large number of people being released from hospitals for the insane.
This caused a lot of people who had been in hospitals to end up living on the streets. But these people prefer to live on the street.
1971 = Reagan was Governor.
I remember Geraldo did an expose’ on institutions for the criminally insane and the conditions were so terribly poor and cruel that it would have been hard to ignore. I wonder if that was what got the ball rolling? I think it was in the 70’s. I know it pretty much made his career.
It happened before either Brown, or Reagan. I had one break into my apartment in 1961 in Berkeley on a sunny Sat. morning. He was being treated by out patient meds, which he wasn’t taking. Jerry Brown was still in college and Reagan was still hosting Death Valley Days. Jerry Brown’s father, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown was the Governor of CA at the time.
I chased the guy out of my apartment by scraming like a banshee, and my husband and neighbor caught the perp a block away trying to break into the back door of an elderly lady.
Nationally, the mentally ill release program was one of the programs pushed by LBJ later on. Maybe even JFK was behind it.
As I remember the story, the ALCU started a lawsuit using a law JFK had signed. This was during the Carter administration. The thrust of their case was that people who were institutionalized without their consent were having their constitutional rights violated. As I recall, the suit finished during the Reagan administration. If memory serves, Reagan submitted a brief in favor of deinstitutionalization.
Up until the Supreme Court decision, there were very few homeless. Then, the institutions turned thousands of mentally ill people loose, some with a bottle of pills. The streets were suddenly covered with mental patients. Today, they occupy every government building and often prey on citizens.
Government representatives can institutionalize anybody deemed a danger to themselves or others (in Florida its called Baker-Acting) for two weeks of observation and detox or medical treatment. But the cost of keeping even dangerous people forever is too high. The patient must actually harm somebody and be found unable to stand trial before they can be institutionalized.
About 20 years ago a former mental patient named Billy Ferry bought a gallon of gas and took it into a Tampa supermarket during Friday rush hour. He slung it across the crowded queues and lit it. About 20 people eventually died and more were scarred. His family had documented his violence and begged for help. He actually had to kill people to get institutionalized. I suspect, due to costs, this is the norm.
Started in the 1960s.
The plan was set in motion by the Community Mental Health Act, passed by Congress in 1963, mandating the appointment of a Commission to make recommendations for “combating mental illness in the United States”
(I know it is wikipedia, but the article seems accurate, from what I know)
In my state, I recall it being a topic of conversation in the mid-1970s.
To be fair, I remember some of the hospitals for the mentally ill in the 1950s and they were awful. I volunteered in one the summer of 1958 and it was just depressing. The people who worked there, for the most part, were pretty desensitized, themselves. OTOH, the community-based options haven’t worked, either.
What started the ball rolling was the 1966 film “Titticutt Follies” by Frederick Wiseman, a documentary about a Massachusetts state mental hospital. The movie will curl your hair.
I can remember ghost towns like Asbury Park, NJ becoming home to populations of Thorazine zombies wandering the streets
The last bill that he signed into law was the Community Mental Health Act.
It took a few years for the full consequences of the law to show up, and it took a lot of law suits to fully put it in effect.
JFK gave us the modern, mentally ill, homelessness that we today.
There are around 3 million out there that are paranoid with homicidal tendencies. The Gabby Giffords attackers was one.
My wife has 30 years in the field. She took one look at the guy and diagnosed him instantly. Paranoid with grand delusional tendencies. That is why he was smiling when they took the mug shot. He got attention and was pleased about it. That sheriff was culpable in that and should be taken to court for it. They could have taken him in for evaluation for 72 hours and they had many chances to do it, plus they knew about him. A few years ago they had a similar incident in Washington State where a guy killed a couple of police officers, and he was mentally ill.
These people need to be watched. They think since they feel better and the voices in their heads (or whatever) are gone that they can quit taking their meds. Then all hell breaks loose. My wife used to be one of those that would go to the apartment and make them take their meds each day.
She got laid off because of lack of funding for the place that did that. So, you have them out there unsupervised and unmedicated.
When I was in the Army, I spent 6 weeks as an observer in a mental hospital in 1973, in Washington State, it wasn’t too bad but the staff did seem a little neurotic.