Investigation Urgently Needed Into Treatment of Mentally Ill Immigration Detainees at California Facility, Editorial States
"Although the number of mentally ill immigration detainees" at the La Mesa, Calif.-based private psychiatric hospital Alvarado Parkway Institute "at any one time seems to range from as few as two to only five or so, their situation needs to be addressed quickly," a San Diego Tribune editorial states (San Diego Tribune, 5/19). Some disability rights lawyers and advocates for the mentally ill say that conditions at many of the private facilities, including API, violate state and federal laws governing treatment of mentally ill people. Ann Menasche, a lawyer with the legal advocacy group Disability Rights California, last month sent a letter to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claiming that after visiting API and interviewing detainees, she found that the conditions are "excessive, unjustifiable and punitive" (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 5/18).
According to the Tribune, "California's strict patients' rights laws specify that psychiatric patients can have daily visitors, use the telephone, exercise, socialize and be free from restraint unless the chief of the facility determines that a specific individual is a threat to himself or others," but, according to Menasche, patients at API are being denied those rights. The editorial adds that the conditions Menasche describes "may sound appalling, but it is unclear whether they are proper for the circumstances," and an "independent probe by the state Department of Public Health ... is needed to determine whether the detainees are being treated properly" (San Diego Tribune, 5/19).