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Crisis in Georgia’s State Institutions

Many people have read the  series of articles in the  Atlanta Journal Constitutions titled “A Hidden Shame: Death in Georgia’s  Mental Hospitals.” (Click here if you would like to read the series of articles.) Like most of you, our initial reaction is to be horrified at  the loss of life and at the conditions reported.  Through the routine monitoring that GAO  engages in, GAO advocates have an opportunity to witness many of these  neglectful conditions within institutional settings.  When advocates witness incidents of abuse and  serious neglect we investigate the situation and step in to protect the  vulnerable individual from further harm.  GAO believes that the only way to prevent abuse and neglect  is by involving vulnerable people in the life of the community.   The highest threat that any group of people  can face is to be congregated and separated away from the rest of society. Some people have concluded that the current problems with Georgia’s  institutions can be fixed with more funding – more staff, larger facilities,  etc.  It is our belief, based on experience,  that the problem of abuse in institutional settings cannot be fixed with any  amount of funding. GAO recently sent a letter to key State Legislators to  express our concerns about the current crisis in Georgia’s mental health  system.

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