Pennhurst State School
Location: South East Pennsylvania
Status: Privately Owned
Reason: Poor Treatments, Patient Abuse
Pennhurst State School and Hospital opened in 1908 as a school and hospital for the mentally ill and challenged individuals. It was also known as Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic. Many different age groups made up the patients at Pennhurst but most of them were children. The patients were either sent to Pennhurst as court ordered or dropped off by their parents who did not want to care for their challenged child. In this era, it was believed doing this was the right way to handle the illness. Pennhurst was suppose to help these individuals get back into society. This was successful for some patients, but for the majority at Pennhurst, they never left the campus. As years went on, the campus became overcrowded. They had about 2000 more patients then the campus was suppose to handle. They were also very under staffed and the state would not give them the money needed to keep up.
Word started coming out that the patients were also abused physically and sexually. They would have their teeth removed if they bite. One of the most cruel punishments. Fingers, toes, and jaws were broken if they were bad. Patients were injected with all type of substances to help calm them down even when these injections were never tested. In 1968, a reporter, known as Bill Baldini, did a special report for CBS10 on the conditions of Pennhurst. It showed how bad life was at Pennhurst.
In the 1980s, a former patient once released went to court and sued Pennhurst for awful living conditions and abuse. That patient won the case and Pennhurst was ordered to close in 1986. When it closed, most patients were transported to nearby insitutions while others were released. Some patients still live in the area.