Patient dumping wasn't Reagan's doing

Published: Sunday, Mar. 2, 2014 - 2:03 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 - 6:00 pm

Re "Patient Dumping Isn't New" (Letters, March 2): Letter writer Bev Messner repeats the oft-cited but wholly untrue allegation that "meany" Ronald Reagan closed many state mental hospitals. In fact, the real culprit was the patients' rights movement, during which the ACLU among others demanded that mentally ill people not be institutionalized against their will. This movement was paved with good intentions.

In addition, the Community Mental Health Act of 1963 was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, establishing a network of "locally-based" community mental health facilities as a local alternative to institutionalization.

But because it didn't require formerly committed patients to be institutionalized at the local level, many people left the state mental hospitals and began roaming the streets. Thus, began the current homeless epidemic, further enabled by social acceptance and homeless support groups.

-- Robert Parrish, Granite Bay

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