Monday, October 29, 2018
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Did President Reagan close mental health hospitals and cause a dramatic rise in homelessness and crime in America?
Jan Leonard Mentally ill? No help? No place to go? And WHO can we thank for that? Republicans. Reaping what was sown.
Before he became president, Reagan was the governor of California. And there, in 1972, he signed the , which was an overhaul of the existing system whereby people who were judged to be mentally ill could be institutionalized against their will. The bill proposed closing most state-run mental institutions and dealing with patients in an outpatient setting. Although well-intentioned, and promoted by the ACLU as a guarantor of freedom, Reagan saw it primarily as a way for the state to save money.
Unfortunately, there were two factors that spelled disaster for the results: first, the ambitious plans for providing outpatient support for former inmates never really came to fruition. Also, this happened near the end of the Vietnam War, when thousands of GIs were returning home every month with PTSD, drug-induced psychoses, and other factors which before, might’ve resulted in them being institutionalized and (theoretically) getting some help. The result was that the population of homeless veterans exploded, and too little was done to address their needs, or to track them to ensure they were taking medications and making appointments.
So, yeah — Reagan bears some responsibility for the huge number of homeless vets on the street, because he signed the bill into law when he was governor of California. The bill wasn’t of his making, but he had the option of fighting or even vetoing it, which he didn’t do. The irony is that it didn’t really save the state money in the long run, it merely transferred the cost from paying for state-
run hospitals serving inpatients, to paying for homeless services.