The Dallas Morning News runs a blistering exposé of Texas' state psychiatric institutions:
Patients with severe mental illness are committed to Texas' state psychiatric hospitals to be protected from themselves. Instead, some are suffering vicious abuse from the very caregivers hired to look after them.
Last year, one state mental hospital employee tackled an adolescent patient who was sobbing for his mother, dragging him across the floor by his wrists and hair.
The year before, another brought a female patient into a hospital bathroom and sexually abused her....
State officials say there will always be some reports of abuse and neglect in an institutional setting. And they say they take any allegations of mistreatment seriously. But the records show that as in other state-run facilities, abuse and neglect are systemic.
Naturally, the system's supporters believe the problems can be solved with more money:
The state psychiatric hospitals, like other systems for vulnerable Texans, are chronically starved for cash, advocates of more state funding say, and services at the local level can't keep up.
"You get what you pay for," said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who has bipolar disorder. "When you financially dumb something down, you make services cheap, something's got to give. Unfortunately, it usually ends up being a mentally ill or disabled Texan."
Before we go any further, I'd like to pause to savor the phrase "Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who has bipolar disorder." In a better world, the AP styleguide would require reporters to identify all elected officials with a party affiliation, a district or state, and a psychiatric diagnosis.
Now I'll turn the microphone over to Charles Johnson -- the Rad Geek guy, not the Little Green Footballs guy -- to argue that it might not be a good idea to give abusive institutions more resources:
no matter how bad and how widespread the abuse may get, the administrators can always count on the pro-establishment wing of their supposed critics to go to the public and to the legislature to beg for even more tax money and even more prison guards to be sent into the psychiatric prison system, so that the very people who created these maddening prison-ward hellholes can be rewarded for their institutionalized violence by being allowed to take even more money from taxpayers to go on doing the same old thing...
What is really needed is a power change, so that psychiatric wards are no longer artificially packed by court order, so that patients can leave and seek help through other means if conditions become unbearable, and so that supposed patients are no longer "treated" against their will and held down at the mercy of their helper-captors. If you make a hospital into a prison camp, then it should be no surprise when the hospital "caregivers" start acting like prison camp guards.