The Law: New Right to Treatment

Even Alabama mental health officials admit that Tuscaloosa's Bryce Hospital is little more than an almshouse for many of its patients. All but 5% of the hospital's 4,800 patients are confined there involuntarily through civil court orders; almost half are geriatrics cases or mental retardees who receive only custodial care. The rest get scant medical treatment. Bryce is so backward that it does not even qualify for federal Medicare funds. The state spends only $6.80 a day on each patient, the second lowest (after Mississippi) such rate in the nation.

Recently a patient's guardian sued the state mental health board to protest...

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