Suit Blasts 4 NJ State Psych Hospitals for Violent Conditions, ‘Unconstitutional’ Policies

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From NJ Spotlight News: “A stay in a New Jersey state psychiatric hospital ‘is more akin to psychiatric incarceration,’ including violence and difficulty just getting just a drink of water.

So asserts a highly critical federal lawsuit filed this week by the organization that advocates for New Jerseyans with ‘mental illness.’ The 99-page lawsuit, filed in federal court by Disability Rights New Jersey, alleges the constitutional due-process rights of many patients in the four state psychiatric hospitals are being violated.

People are being kept involuntarily in the facilities as in-patients, according to the complaint, even when they have been approved for release because there are not enough community placements for them.

The suit contends that some people are forced to wait months, if not years, for release. When they are released, it is often to an inappropriate placement just to get out of a hospital, rather than wait longer for the placement of their choice.

. . . ‘Imagine living in an environment where even the most basic choices are taken away from you — when to wake up, when to go outside, when to have a drink of water — and, in place of psychiatric treatment, you face both boredom and violence on a daily basis,’ said Bren Pramanik, a Disability Rights New Jersey attorney.

‘This is the reality for the patients in the state’s four psychiatric hospitals, over 20% of whom could leave today if the State developed capacity to serve them in the community.'”

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