Right to Treatment

All substantive rights of institutionalized persons with mental disabilities flow from the right to treatment. After its roots in a seminal law journal article, the right was given its major impetus in 1972 in Wyatt v. Stickney, the most significant institutional case ever decided on this question. A decade later, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt with some of these issues in the case of Youngberg v. Romeo, establishing a new methodology for the consideration of most adequacy-of-treatment claims. Subsequent cases have interpreted Youngberg both expansively and narrowly and also have expanded the Youngberg concepts into cases involving other populations and fact settings. Both state constitutions and patients’ bills of rights also have been relied on as sources of this right.

The initial justification for this right ...

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