Law: Patients' Rights

The high court slows a trend

Pennhurst State School and Hospital, a sprawling institution in Spring City, Pa., is home to 1,200 mentally retarded people. The facility has a history of being understaffed, dirty and violent. Three years ago, in response to a class-action suit, a federal district judge ordered that Pennhurst eventually be closed, and appointed an overseer to place residents in facilities where they would have more freedom. An appeals court backed the judge but allowed Pennhurst to remain open—in effect, under the court's supervision—to serve the most troubled patients.

Taken together, the decisions added momentum to the national "deinstitutionalization" movement,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!