CBS Evening News for Sunday, Jul 03, 1977
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(Studio) Though Supreme Court ruled in favor of rights for former and present mental patients, these people still face social obstacles to normal lifestyle.
REPORTER: Morton Dean
(DC) Kenneth Donaldson was confined for 15 years without treatment in Florida mental institution, constantly protesting his sanity and trying to get out. Was finally released and recently spoke to law class in Washington, DC as 1 whose case made history in field of law dealing with rights of mentally ill. Donaldson's case went to Supreme Court and it ruled that mentally ill can't be confined against their will without treatment, if they're not dangerous. [DONALDSON - says once 1 is pronounced mentally ill, it's mark for rest of life.] He won damages from physicians who kept him in institution. [DONALDSON - says award can't compensate for time he spent in institution.] Attys. for Mental Health Law Project in Washington, DC say mental patients still long way from full rights. [Project spokesperson Paul FRIEDMAN - says most people in institutions shouldn't be there, but could be living in community and still get help and services needed, if it was provided.] Only federal run mental institution in United States is Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in DC; officials say as many as 1/2 of patients there don't need to be and could be treated on outside if facilities available. But this is problem around cntry., no facilities. Bill Dickson has spent 24 years at Saint Elizabeth's and would leave if he had place to go. [DICKSON - likes hospital, but doesn't think it necessary for him to be there.] Dickson and others were plaintiffs in suit where judge has ruled federal and Washington, DC govts. must create new community facilities to treat those who don't need hospitalization. Conditions at hospital and attitude of patients re: release noted; nothing has yet been done with regard to new treatment facilities, though ruling made 2 years ago. [WOMAN - is scared with regard to going out into world.] Unitarian church in Washington, DC has formed small rehabilitation group for Saint Elizabeth's; is called Green Door; details noted. But problems still remain; Green Door can treat only a few. More defense of rights for mental patients needed.
REPORTER: Joan Snyder