Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

July 20, 1974 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-07-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Sotu rdoy, July 20, 1.974


Poge Nine

Saturday, July 20, 1974 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Nine

:ivil rights movement, work-
ing through law suits in federal
:ourts, could have a profound
impact on the nation's publicly
supported mental institutions.
If successful, ° the strategy
:ould force every state to spend
more time and money to guar-
antee individual treatment and
humane conditions for patients
in institutions for the mentally
ill and mentally retarded.
AND IT could inject the pow-
er of the federal courts into a
local government function in a
prolonged way that has happen-
ed only once before - in school
The movement, coalescing
from the efforts of numerous
local reformers, gained new
strength in 1972 when a hand-
ful of attorneys formed the Men-
tal Health Law Project as a
nonprofit private corporation
bent on winning legal recogni-
tion of the rights of mental pa-
About the same time, the Jus-
tice Department was gearing
up for its own attack.
Assistant Atty. Gen. Stanley
Pottinger, head of the depart-
ment's civil rights division, calls
the effort "one of the two or
three last great frontiers of civil
states have not just a moral
and medical duty, but an obli-
gation imposed by-the Constitu-
tion, to nrovide treatment to pa-
tients involuntarily committed
to mental institutions.
This argument, like those em-
nloved successfully in the civil
rights battles of the 1960s, re-
lies on the 14th Amendment and
its nromise that no state shall
"deprive any person of life,
liberty, or nronerty, without due
process of law "
Dting the past 14 years, the
arg isent was oresentedain sev-
eral federal district courts on
behalf of individual Patients.
Bit the mixed results attract-
ed little attention and establish-
ed no clear-cut legal principle
with national application.
A SERIES of apinions in 1971
and 1972 by a judge in Alabama
gave the movement the imnetus
it had sought. Chief U.S. Dis-
trict Judge Frank Johnson sle-
clared uneonivocally that na-
tients committed to institutions
"inowestionably have a conyit-
ttional right to receive -irh
individual treatment as will giva
each of them a realistic onor-
t'nity to he cured or to improve
his or her mental condition."
He said flrther, "There catA

patients: New civil rights fight

be no legal or moral justifica-
tion for the state of Alabamao's
failing to afford treatment -
and adequate treatment from a
medical standpoint - to the
several thousand patients w h o
have been civillly committed to
Bryce Hospital for treatment
"To deprive any ci'izen oft
his or her liberty upon the al-
truistic theory that the coifine-
ment is for humane therapeitic
reasons and then fail to provide
adequate treatment viola.-es the
very fundamentals of due pro-
NOT ONLY (lid the ia nc con-
demn the state's attitude, bet
he also ordered state officials
to submit nlans for imaroving
Bryce Hosnitri, Searcy Hospital
and Partlow State Sciool and
Hosnital and he retained jiris-
diction over the case t anake
sere that the imorovemnnts
were put into effect.
By doing so, Johnson fallowed
the pattern of federal cGuits
which have supervised the ion-
plemeotation of school desegre-
gation plans with a forc '-over-
whelming the opposition in state
legislatures and local govern-
Alabama appealed Johnson's
decision to the U.S. Court of
Anneals in New Orleans, which
heard the case more than ) year
ago but has yet to issue a ruling.
IN ANOTHER case, r-ising
the same issue in a much more
limited way, the appellate court
ruled two months ago that pa-
tients in state mental institu-
tions have a clear constiiution-
al right to treatment.
It was the first time in his-
tory that the question na-d been
decided by a federal aipeals
court, which carries consider-
ably more weight than the dis-
trict courts.
Justice Denartment lawyers
say they were encouraged by
the decision, written by Judge
John Wisdom for the three-judge
annellate nanel which neard and
rejected Florida's appeal of a
district court decision awarding
$38,500 in damages to a pa-
tient virtually ignored by the
doctors during 15 years of con-
finement in a mental hospital.
BUT THE lawyers are cau-
tious in their hope for an ap-
neals court oninion upholding
Judge Johnson's much broader
order. For one thing, the Flor-
ida case involved a single pa-
tient rather than a sweeping
command to alter a state svs-
And the Alabama case will be
decided by a different set of

judges. Under normal court pro-
cedure, three of the nine appel-
late judges serving a specific
geographic region decide each
case for the court Judge Wis-
dom was assigned. to both the
Alabama and Florida cases. But
his two colleagues on the Ala-
bama case were not on the Flor-
ida case and may take a dif-
ferent view,
In addition, the Alabama case
will be decided in conjunction
with a Georgia case in which
the district judge ruled that pa-
tients have no constitutional
right to treatment and suggest-
ed that the issue was not a
matter for the courts to decde.
THAT IS the only major case
in which a judge hasa reseCed
the claimed right to treatment
on constitutional grounds.
At any rate, the issue seems
certain to reach the Supreme
Court in a few years. The ulti-
mate result will affect more
than 30,000 patients in state
and county institutions for the
mentally ill and about 200,000 in
institutions for the retarded.
Perhaps no section of Amer-
ican society has prOduced more
horror stories than these insti-
tutions. The opinion written by
Judge Wisdom in the case of
Kenneth Donaldson offers a
Donaldson was committed to
ouarenteed repair
service done right
in our shop
Hi Fi Studio
668-7942 769-0342

a Florida State Hospital in 1957
after a brief hearing. Donald-
son's father petitioned for the
commitment in a county court
proceeding similar to those of
most other states.
ACCORDING TO testimony,
the judge told Donaldson ne was
being sent away for only a few
weeks. He was diagnosed as a
"paranoid schizophrenic" A
Christian Scientist, he refused
medication and electroshock
treatments and "no other ther-
apy was offered," Wisdom
"Donaldson was usually con-
fined in a locked room where,
according to his testimony, there
were about 60 beds, with little
more room between beds than
was necessary for a chair; his
possessions were kept under the
bed," Wisdom related.
"At night, he was often wak-
ened by some who had fits and

by some 'soho would torment
other patients, screaming n d
hollering.' Then there was ')e
fear, always the fear you have
in your heart, I suppose, when
you go to sleep that nasybe
somebody would jump on y sa
during the night.' A third of t.e
patients in the ward were :rim-
inals," the judge contin-ed,
quoting from Donaldson's teSi-
"IN SHORT," Wisdom con-
cluded, "he received only the
kind of subsistence level cus-
todial care he would have re-
ceived in a prison, and perhips
less psychiatric treatment than
a criminally committed inmate
would have received."
The Justice Department, in a
lawsuit accusing Maryland of
violating the rights of 2,400 pa-
tients at Rosewood State flos-
pital for the retarded, alleges
similar treatment.

$ a new improvised musical revue. ..
conceived & directed by
managing director
staring the cast Of
BO3STON'S longest
running show
june 6 - august 1o
102s.-first st.,ann arbor
wednesdays & thursdays. 9:30
saturdays- 0oo
With dinner IWed., Thur., and Fri.-$i.nu; A-$i.
ienerail Admi,"on iWed. and Thurs-$1.50;Fri. uo Sat.-IcO

Church enice4

1833 Washtenaw
Sunday Service and Sunday
School-10:30 a.m,
Wednesday Testimony Meet-
ing-8:00 p.m.
Child Care-Sunday, under 2
years; Wednesday, through 6
Reading Room -306 E. Lib-
erty. 10-9 Mon., 10-5 Tues.-Sat.
"The Truth That Heals" -
WPAG radio, 10 a.m. Sunday.,
218 N. Division--66S-0606
Holy Eucharist at noon at
Canterbury House.
CHURCH, 306 N. Division
10:00 a.m. - Morning Prayer
and Sermon.
7:00 p.m. - Holy Eucharist in
CHURCH, 1432 Washtenaw Ave.
Ministers: Robert E. Sanders,
John R. Waser, Brewster IL
Gere, Jr.
"Where Christ, Campus and
Community meet"
9:30 am. - Worship Service.

423 S. Fourth Ave. Ph. 665-6149
Minister: Howard F. Gebhart
10 a.m.-Worship Service and
Church School.
1511 Washtenaw Ave.
Alfred T. Scheips, Pastor
Sunday Service at 9:15 a m.
1136Washtenaw Court
(1 Block S. of C.C. Little Bldg.)
The Rev. Donald Postema
Morning Service-10:00 a.m.-
"God's.Quarrel With People."
Evening Service-6:00 p.m.-
Holy Communion.
CHURCH, 1001 E. Huron
Calvin Malefyt, Alan Rice,
10:00 a.m.-Morning Worship.
(Formerly Lutheran Student
801 S. Forest Ave. at H1 St.
Donald G; Zll, pastor
Sunday Service at 10:30 a.m.

k 91
Bernard has room for living
If you want to be on your own, but you want more than four walls,
you'll get more than just a room to study and sleep in at our place.
You'll have room to entertain and be entertained. Room for
friends and social activities.'Room to. live the way you like, So ..
make the right move.
Come to where the living is easy.
G riverstyGIw4 3e
336 S. Forest Mvae- Ana Arbot, Michsigan 481104 Phone (313) 761-26810

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan