Malaika Puffer

Proposed hospital is a false solution to a real problem

A new 16-bed therapeutic community residence would subject its inmates to psychiatric incarceration. We can give people the supports they need more quickly, more cheaply, and with greater efficacy.

Vermont's mental health system is poised to move millions of dollars toward the wrong side of history by prioritizing control and psychiatric incarceration over community care and voluntary support. Community members and legislators can act now to prevent decades of harm and address our communities' real needs.

The governor's budget this year includes $11.6 million for a new 16-bed “secure residential” facility in Essex to replace the current seven-bed Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence (TCR). The new facility would also be licensed as a TCR, the lowest level of license that Vermont residential programs can have.

“Therapeutic community residence” sounds nice but is, in this case, a radically inappropriate misnomer.

The floor plans include a “seclusion area” (a.k.a. solitary confinement) and a restraint chair. The facility will also subject its inmates to forced drugging, a violent practice that many survivors describe as torture.

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