20/20 (Television program). [2000-03-08], The Abandoned Ones

Moving Image
Created: 2000


20/20 (Television program). [2000-03-08], The Abandoned Ones
Summary: "ABC News' Cynthia McFadden travels to Mexico to reveal the shocking and dehumanizing conditions inside government run institutions for the mentally ill and retarded in a story which called international attention to severe human rights violations and brought pressure for real change. In this story 20/20's cameras expose the everyday horrors that some of society's most vulnerable adults and children must withstand having no legal recourse or political power to change the situation themselves. 'We have to tell the world what is happening because we need the support from the world. That's why we don't want to hide this horrible reality. We need to show it,' says advocate Virginia Gonzalez-Torres, who has spent most of her life fighting for the rights of the mentally ill and mentally retarded in Mexico. She acts as our guide into this other world that few ever see. The men and women behind the walls of these institutions are sentenced to live in dangerously unsanitary conditions, without adequate medical care -- with little treatment, rehabilitation, or therapy of any kind. Even more disturbing, one renowned medical expert, Dr. Robert Okin, tells us that nearly 80 percent of the people do not need to be there. Dr. Okin, a psychiatrist who travels the world investigating conditions inside mental hospitals, says it is time to hold Mexico accountable under international law for horrendous human rights violations. '...The conditions in Mexico are among the worst I've ever seen,' he tells Ms. McFadden. He says the conditions inside one institution, the Ocaranza institution, was so bad it reminded him of 'a concentration camp.' Ms. McFadden also speaks with the Mexican Minister of Health, Jose Antonio Gonzales Fernandez who promises to inspect one children's facility and invites 20/20 to return to witness the reforms he will order. Then, Mr. Fernandez appropriates the equivalent of $1.2 million for much needed changes at another institution highlighted in the report. As a result of our program, changes have been instituted and one of the worst facilities that we focused on was even shut down completely with patients, after evaluations, either moving into half-way houses or being transferred to other facilities that could better serve their needs."--2000 Peabody Awards entry form.

Corporate Producers: ABC News

Persons Appearing: Cynthia McFadden

Broadcast Date: 2000-03-08