In 2002, a privately run home in Bolivar let a man's bed sores rot his flesh so badly that he died. Two years earlier, state workers repeatedly and severely beat mentally retarded boys in Marshall....Now in a country where pundits will applaud one presidential candidate for flying back to Arkansas to execute a functionally-retarded criminal and where another president orders the torture of a mentally-disturbed prisoner so as not to "lose face", maybe this won't come as a surprise, but it should still be intolerable.
One mentally retarded man [in a facility near Overland] prone to swallowing things died in November after swallowing an ink pen. The resident, Michael Pallme, was supposed to be watched constantly.
Another patient, Rudy Wallace, died in March from burns so severe his skin began falling off after a worker left him in scalding water.
But those incidents are only a fraction of what has occurred inside the state and private facilities that house more than 11,000 state residents who have the most severe cases of mental retardation, developmental disabilities and mental illness.
In the most extreme cases, conditions are truly horrific: mentally ill prisoners locked in segregation with no treatment at all; confined in filthy and beastly hot cells; left for days covered in feces they have smeared over their bodies; taunted, abused, or ignored by prison staff; given so little water during summer heat waves that they drink from their toilet bowls.... Suicidal prisoners are left naked and unattended for days on end in barren, cold observation cells. Poorly trained correctional officers have accidentally asphyxiated mentally ill prisoners whom they were trying to restrain.It doesn't even take "the most extreme cases" to see things are bad. From people who have worked closely on this issue, I've heard plenty of stories of, say, prisoners who simply won't be "officially" classified as mentally ill despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, and will then get written up by guards at the first outburst of strange behavior (say, compulsive masturbating in their cell), leading to longer prison sentences. Is this likely to make things a) better or b) worse? Yeah, I wonder too.