Balancing Clients’ Rights

The Establishment of Human Rights and Peer Review Committees
  • Jan B. Sheldon
  • Todd R. Risley


In the last two decades, society has witnessed a dramatic increase in the amount of litigation concerning incarcerated mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons. These lawsuits reflect a heightened concern with the conditions and practices to which these people have been exposed. Of prime importance in many of those cases have been alleged harmful practices, including such things as physical and mental abuse, un-sanitary living conditions, and exposure to aversive treatment procedures, such as electric shock, psychosurgery, physical restraints, and seclusion (Halderman and the United States v. Pennhurst, 1977; Kaimowitz v. Department of Mental Health, 1973; New York State Association for Retarded Children and Parisi v. Carey, 1975; Wyatt v. Stickney, 1972). Evidence from the cases indicated that individuals in residential programs could also be exposed to harmful conditions because of an absence of appropriate treatment; without appropriate treatment, many individuals can regress or deteriorate in their functioning (Walker &Peabody, 1979). A number of important conclusions have resulted from these lawsuits. Two of the most important are: (1) the right of residential clients to be free from abusive and harmful procedures and conditions and (2) the right of clients to receive treatment appropriate to their needs.


Treatment Program Treatment Procedure Committee Member Treatment Technique Treatment Staff 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan B. Sheldon
    • 1
  • Todd R. Risley
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of AlaskaAnchorageUSA

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