Horrors at Bridgewater State Hospital

1989 "Nightline" report about the Massachusetts facility that houses mentally ill people with the criminally insane.
3:00 | 03/31/14

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Transcript for Horrors at Bridgewater State Hospital
It's been a horror story -- more than twenty years. A state hospital in Massachusetts. With a criminally insane and those committed for several reasons are held together. Good evening I'm Ted Koppel and this is Nightline. A year and a half ago on Nightline a Massachusetts official made this promise policy of our administration. As of now was -- for the civil commitments will and should not be sent to -- from Bridgewater state hospital. We'll revisit the story. Tonight. This is ABC news Nightline. Reporting for one -- Ted -- Let's begin this broadcast where we ended our last one on the subject because there have been such controversy over conditions. At the Bridgewater state hospital for the criminally insane. I asked one of our guests Philip Johnson the human services secretary for the state of Massachusetts. Whether -- Nightline could videotape inside the facility. Nightline would right now like to request permission to come and two we're we're we're rooms and well thank interview with mr. Dreyfuss -- list will be good health -- -- -- We repeatedly wrote and called over a period of several months but despite secretary Johnson's assurances we were never granted access to Bridgewater. Indeed other far more significant assurances were also made on that broadcast back in August of 1987. And they too have not been -- so we are returning to the subject of Bridgewater state hospital. Answer the question of why insane people who have committed no crime. Are still being housed in what is supposed to be a facility for the criminally insane. The video you will see you were shot by our Boston affiliate WCVB. Two Summers ago. And. -- -- -- -- hospital is art state maximum security facility for people who are. Determined to be criminally insane. It's a very unique facility -- facility which places mentally ill people and -- And to mix them quite frankly with some very very dangerous people who had been convicted of serious crimes. But they are still admitting. People who are civilly committed mentally ill. Either accused or convicted of any crimes almost a year and a half since the command was made on national television that the practice would stop. I'm asking about people who have committed no criminal act one -- -- well those of these people are also -- violent and very dangerous but I announced several weeks ago led we are terminating that. -- procedure. I think you're that in fact the 20% or so on patients -- Brodeur who were been sent -- by the mental health system. Should not be you very criminal justice institution. Instead they ought to be of mental health. Facilities we now have the capital money -- the operating money two to houses. At least half of those who have patients in the mental health system and where were we intend to begin doing this this system here. What has happened since then is that the state has utterly failed to live up to its commitments. There -- now -- greater percentage. Of civilly committed mentally ill people. Either accused or convicted of any crimes in this facility right now. Then there were a year ago they're still approximately eighty such patients have Bridgewater. We have some of the people on the other side of this issue really don't care where these where these civil commitments ago they just don't want -- -- Bridgewater state hospital. We do care whether ago we want them to go to. And to -- employees which is safe for them and sources say for the community at large. And we are doing in on the grounds of Medfield state hospital which is of the department of mental health facilities. And I am very confident. During 1989. We will. Have that facility up and going. You know maybe at some point in the future they're going to build -- -- I don't know one it's going to be. But time is important in these patients if you don't treat someone who's a chronic schizophrenic and he'll lock them up alone a world. There consequences to that the longer that time goes by becomes more difficult but to intervene -- that. My son is being held hostage in a prison says don't. And because of the -- -- treatment. And the seclusion. He -- deteriorated. To the point he looks like prisoners of law. They're not -- -- human beings and entitled to be treated like human beings. But but I'm really worried that they've lost. His artistic like symptoms which you know -- -- -- -- -- -- And it very initiated. In a barren cold rule with a wide with -- And and a middle claim it like many. Prisons it's a place for violence occurs. What one of the tragic. Events this mixing -- mentally ill people and prisoners. Has been that some of the mentally ill people who are less capable of taking care of themselves have been victimized. By some of the people -- two -- who've been transferred from correctional institutions. The civilians. They're easy -- and like I said before they did. You know they prey upon. For sex. They can't fend for themselves -- and -- when these kinds of -- in particular little one was hit. -- Drain pipe in December of 1987. Approximately four months after your first program on the subject -- The state entered into a settlement agreement with me we're presenting the patients. That this practice of taking people who are mentally ill and putting them in this jail would terminate. And recognizing that it would take time to move these people a target date was established and that date was march of 1989. Now -- there was never any commitment to the march 31 Davis is a red Herring issue that mr. MacLeish. Has grabbed onto him he's very skilled in doing -- in January of 1988. The legislature. Passed a law which required. That those patients be removed. By march of 1989 there's no court in -- state that would support mr. MacLeish is view of the march 31 day. There was an effort to. Maybe you've made your good for -- good faith effort. To comply. Wins. That -- than -- and we certainly don't. Say they're playing games again and I am tired of -- Brian. No more games. Every game makes a difference every -- -- Kept in seclusion makes it different every day he's going to withdrawn president back into himself. Every game he's making a difference with my -- this season.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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