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.
I have heard that it was the ACLU through a series of law suits.
President Bill Clinton signed the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996
In 1971 Wyatt v Stickney was filed, which involved the federal courts. The basic premise, which was correct, was that if you involuntarily confine someone because of illness you have a duty to treat that illness. You can't just say "you have broken no law but we think you're crazy so we will sock you away and throw away the key."
Custodial treatment is not good enough to justify depriving a person of his civil liberties. If he is not dangerous you let him go. The mental hospitals as late as the fifties had no really effective treatment, so were required to discharge masses of people.
Before copping an attitude about deinstitutionalization consider this: in the 1950's, half of all hospital beds in the US were psychiatric beds. Nowadays we have some fullsize hospitals with NO psychiatric beds, or maybe a twenty bed ward if they are big enough. State psychiatric hospitals are largely for the forensic cases--legally insane or incompetent to stand trial.
The bulk of the difference has been the introduction of effective psychoactive medications and respect for the civil rights they enable.
Thank you for letting me know. I was a baby then so I was completely unaware but I did remember the Geraldo report in the 70’s. It was so horrifying that I can still remember some of the scenes. I can’t imagine anything worse but I will take your word on it. These are the people who really needed a safety net and never got one.
From all the above posts, it sounds like there’s no simple answer.
An organization I support ministers to mentally ill homeless people. They have a daunting task even though they’re in a medium-sized city. Right now, finding housing for the people they can get off the streets is a big issue. A large downtown apartment building is closing, displacing 200+ people.
Prison is now the de facto mental health center for those with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. There is no treatment, only hell waiting to explode.
Reagan, but it was a movement that has always had bipartisan support. It`s one of the very few issues with support from both sides. It was a movement that started almost a century ago, there`s a lot to read on it, but since you mention RWR and Brown I am guessing you`re asking about CA specifically. I think Reagan was governor, but I wouldn`t be surprised if Moonbeam supported it too.
I know something about this. Reponsibility for the care of the mentally ill was passed to the states after the development of some effective psycho-drugs in the 60’s. To save a buck, the states opted to take the low-cost approach and prescribe drugs instead of housing them any longer. Many of the mentally ill ended up on the streets to fend for themselves. I remember reading a newspaper account of what happened exactly and this is as much of it that I recall. We had a mental hospital in Camarillo, CA that closed down in the early 70’s as a direct result of this reorganization.
Yep, this one goes to RR. (I'm not sure why I remember this so clearly.)
The best solution is organisations like you are involved with.
As has been indicated though, the bulk of the mentally ill are treated and succesfully re enter society.
Various political agendas have a stake in making mental health advances seem a failure. Note how many attempted to claim hoards of mentally ill in the streets was a problem emerging in the twentieth century. Read up on the traumatized veterans of the civil war (or indeed any war of the past). Ask just how all those institutions came to be built, and what was done before.
I read a good book about five years ago(don’t remember the name) and it pointed out that after the movie “one flew over the coocoo’s nest” came out the democrats, headed by teddy kennedy fought to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill. turned them loose on the public and then of course crime sky rocketed.
That is what I remember-the 1970’s.
Conventional wisdom is of course that Palin is responsible for the murders in Arizona. More comes out every day that Loughner exhibit traits of schizophrenia. If so, it would have been nice if the combination of educators, parents, friends, and officials could have taken some steps to place Loughner under proper care (you know so Palin could not get to him with her mind control), but it actually very hard to force people with severe mental diseases to be treated because of a range of reforms pushed by progressives starting in the 60’s: http://www.4yourcountry.org/2011/01/are-liberal-policies-responsible-for-jared-lee-loughner.html
We talked about this in a thread yesterday, so forgive the repeat.
In California’s case, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967. It required a judge’s order to force medication and for hospital holds longer than 72 hours.
With so many patients subsequently released, California’s hospitals were defunded and shut down.
My own opinion (not that you asked) is that the number of mentally ill abandoned to wander the streets, with no help available even if they could ask for it, is the shame of California.
I don’t know about the situation in the rest of the country.
Here in MA it was under the Duke.
That was a national phenomenon, something bigger than any one state governor. There was a national movement for deinstitutionalization on the state level and the Carter administration got national legislation supporting and advancing the movement. There was very little thought as to what would replace the old mental hospitals that were being closed all across the country. Reagan’s role in all this wouldn’t have been a determining factor, but it’s easy for liberals to blame him.
The democraps in congress forced Reagan to- they needed the voters
The Usual Suspects: LIBERALs. For all their “good intentions” they had a problem with people being warehoused and so forth. So now the mentally ill and developmentally disabled roam the streets, get robbed, assaulted, sexually molested and have other degrading experiences. Thanks, Liberals.
I don’t fault him.
Jeannette Walls [a big Liberal who used to work for MSNBC] was born to two homeless wanderers. She wrote a good book “Glass Castles”
But even she has had it up to here with the Liberal mindset that all so-called homeless wanderers are poor and needy. Her parents would have been classified as poor and in need of shelter. She knows they were not.
When she got older, she wrote books and got jobs working in the media. She would still see her mother who slept on the streets of New York City.
A good book which changed my views of homelessness and mental illness.
One of the pet theories extant in the 1970’s being the new medications were going to obviate the necessity of custodial care. What the theorists overlooked was the sick would not take their medications without direct supervision. Even in the 18th century they were taking care of their mentally ill people (August Pinel). The care was not great but it was care. The mad were not being exploited on the streets.
I don’t remember the exact law, but I do remember that in the
old days there was “work therapy” which allowed inmates in menta
institutions to work and earn some money, but because they
weren’t being paid “minimum wage” they had to shut that down.
So the poor inmates, even though they were medicated and
were somewhat stable were just warehoused, and all they did
all day was sit around, watch TV, smoke(nicotine appears
to make many bonafide schizophrenics feel better, whatever
that means), and waste away.
Now the medications are much better than the Thorazines and
Mellarils and Stelazines of that day, but the patient still
needs to take ‘em. Nowadays, it’s basically a merrygoround.
(i.e. get admitted , get a 5051(danger to oneself/others),
get medicated, get stable, and whoooosh back to the street.
Repeat as needed.
Napa State Mental Hospital is open for the fairly harmless One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest gang. Atascadero State mental Hosp. is open for the criminally insane.
It's full of democrats.
Leftist lawyers. I remember arguing with them.
Now they are all judges and still as dumb as rocks.
LOLOL.... that one snuck up on me.... sending to hubby..... so funny.
Interesting, in our state, anyone with concerns can initiate an involuntary commitment.
A doc pa or NP certifies it
A doc has to recertify it
You lose your second ammendment rights WHEN THE PAPER IS INITIATED, NOT WHEN IT IS CERTIFIED OR RECERTIFIED.
My visit through lock down psych unit at a local VA hospital a few years ago was pretty emotional for me. I was there to assess some design changes they were considering for the group spaces and sleeping spaces. Residents included members of the military going back to Korean action.
I truly admire the nursing staff in this unit. Nurses less than 5 feet tall,dealing with patients towering 6’5” and they do so with no outward signs of fear, even when said patient is having a meltdown. Very calm, very professional. Very heartbreaking to see these men who are trying to cope.