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Right to Fail: Abandoning the Mentally Ill

The Most Revolutionary Act

Right to Fail

PBS Frontline (2018)

Film Review

I disagree with the title of this documentary. It gives the impression the filmmakers disagree with a 2014 ruling in federal court granting New York mental patients the right to live independently (even if it leads to serious adverse consequences) – instead of being warehoused in poorly funded and managed group homes. The main adverse consequences the film identifies include homelessness, incarceration, physical abuse and death.

In my view, the problem isn’t that chronic mental patients need to remain in restrictive settings for their own good (as the title implies). The problem is New York is no different from any other state. No state lawmakers are willing to spend the necessary funds to ensure patients with chronic mental conditions receive the treatment and support they require to live meaningful lives.

In the film, ProPublica reporter Joaquin Sapien blames the decision to empty…

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