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CCHR and US Psychiatric Institutions

Since the late 1960s CCHR has investigated a virtually endless array of psychiatric abuses in the United States. In 1976, for instance, it provided California lawmakers with evidence and witnesses documenting the unexplained deaths of more than a hundred people at the Camarillo and Metropolitan state psychiatric institutions. These exposés led to an investigation by the California state legislature and resulted in substantial administrative changes in both institutions.

In 1990 a similar pattern of abuse was discovered at the Patton state psychiatric institution in San Bernardino, California. CCHR discovered that the death rate at Patton had increased five times since the head of the institution had assumed office. Again, the California legislature investigated and the executive director was forced to resign.

CCHR has been responsible for many legislative reforms over the years, including a 1976 law passed in California to restrict the use of electric shock and lobotomies on children, and to require full disclosure to adult patients of the damaging effects of the brutal procedures. In 1994, a similar law banning the use of ECT on children was passed in Texas due to the efforts of CCHR there. In Florida, where “for-profit” psychiatric hospitals indulged in schemes such as “patient brokering” and “referral fees,” CCHR was instrumental in getting legislation passed to ban such fraudulent practices.

CCHR continues to work closely with local, state and federal authorities to uncover and expose fraud and patient abuses in psychiatric facilities. Its work has resulted in a heightened awareness by law enforcement of fraudulent practices and, consequently, more and more psychiatric facilities are being forced to close.


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