That darkness was found to contain some of the most horrific, abusive practices that has blighted this society in recent times.
Some may find this report a bit difficult to go through.
Pennhurst covers 120 acres and could house over 10,000 patients. Devoted to the care and education of the disabled, it took in those who were sent
there by the courts and those brought there by the parents. Amongst the 300 bed hospital you could find a dentist, psychiatrists, surgeons and nurses.
The school covered a wide range of topics for the education of the children inside. There were even members of the clergy and farmers.
There can be no doubt that Pennhurst did manage to help many, many people prior to these terrible events. Something or someone allowed this to occur.
Those who worked there either used the situation for their own gain, or they ignored the problems.
a collection of historical images from Pennhurst state
Pennhurst was mostly self sufficient. Perhaps this is why it ended up the way it did.. With not a lot of contact from the outside world, Pennhurst
fell into a deep, dark hell from which it would never awaken.
Accusations of dehumanization, of being no help to the disabled, sexual abuse, troubles with
members of staff, it was eventually closed in 1986.
A report on NBC called Suffer the Little Children (This link is to the actual
broadcasted programme. Some may find the images disturbing) helped to bring about the close of Pennhurst, although many that are still alive could
still be suffering from the horrors they witnessed or experienced inside this pit. Others feel that Pennhurst still contains the torn and battered
souls of the long deceased. At the end of the video you will hear, from Vice President Hubert Humphry, how the government is doing well regards
funding for the education of the disalbed (I'm not going to use the exact words used) but what happened at Pennhurst? The claim that funds and
improvements have increased only spans three years prior to the interviews on Pennhurst, so what exactly happened in the previous 90 years to allow
Pennhurst to fall as it did?
How the Vice President refers to the disabled as 'trainable' assets is sickening. I also find it disturbing how he refers to the disabled as
Quoted as a 'monument to shame', the money spent on this place must have been immense. and for what? To lock away and forget socities ills in what
appears to be an attempt to erradicate the disabled placed inside. According to one witness, those who continually bit people would have their teeth
In the case of Johnnie, it is utterly unbelievable as to how he was graded and to how his parents were classed as delinquents. As the reporter says,
there are many others in Pennhurst who are more than able to have a full, complete and happy life but only if they were to leave Pennhurst. Pennhurst
was actually bringing them down to a sub-human level.
a collection of pictures from the past to present
During the interviews with the personnel, you can clearly hear how difficult it is for them to answer most of the questions put forwards. There seems
to be a mixture of guilt, helplessness and an air of disregaurd as they just are not able to handle the entire situation. The images of the children
resemble that of a WW2 concentration camp.
How was this allowed to happen? Just exactly how long did these children suffer? From what year did the abuse start? 1908? 1912? Or did it all start
more recently, say, the 1950's? No matter when it started, I am thrilled and overjoyed that it has stopped. But one thing bothers me. That is that
there are still many abusers who are alive today and walking the streets or working in hospitals that are yet to answer for their crimes against
Yes, I said crimes against Humanity... It was upon learning about Pennhurst state that I put a petition up
here. Unfortunately it seems that this type of thing does not warrant such a forum
after the low amount of response I received. So this is why this thread is now in this section.
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious
offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not
isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or
of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape and political,
racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or
systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war
crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion."
In my mind, Humans suffered, a lot.. children. It seems the government policy up to the point of Pennhurst being exposed was one of ignorance and
uncaring. A problem that was swept under the carpet. The government have a lot to answer for regarding this case, as do many of the employees of
Dr. Jesse Fear almost admits how he forced a patient to receive a painful injection. The injection was to teach the patient a lesson... nothing more..
"The residents lived lives of inner dignity and grace in a world designed to strip that dignity from them."
--former Pennhurst employee.
Halderman vs. Pennhurst State School
Excerpts from the facts section of the federal district court case Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital (446 F.Supp. 1295) demonstrate the
horrific conditions lack of funding created at Pennhurst. It was only through the dedication of the overworked staff, it seems, that any humanity at
all was afforded in this institution.
* Admission and Discharge Log, 1959-1960. (1 volume)[#23.407] [Description]
* Annual Fiscal Report, 1934-1935. (1 volume)[#23.408] [Description]
* Court Documents for Terri Lee Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, 1994. (1 folder)[#23.409] [Description]
* Daily Census, 1930-1967. (2 volumes)[#23.410] [Description]
* Numerical Index to Patient Roster, 1908-1977. (1 volume)[#23.411] [Description]
* Patient Register, 1908-1961. (2 volumes)[#23.412] [Description]
* Pennhurst Community Bank Scrip and Scrip Savings Book, 1973. (1 folder)[#23.413] [Description]
* Proceedings of the Thirty-First Annual Meeting of the Association of Trustees and Medical Superintendents of State and Incorporated Hospitals
for the Insane and Feeble-Minded, 1918. (1 volume) [#23.414] [Description]
I have been in this room and the group i was with found a "chest" of documents
in the documents there was a three ring binder about 5 inches think.
it was completly filled with files of patients and how they died, why they died, when where and the regular stuff...
the odd part of it was that most patients had died from "restraints" or "patient got out of hand, doctors(or nurses) handled"
the worst part was in the back of the binder there was a tally sheet of the operations for 3 doctors..
under each docotrs naem there was a spot for deaths on the table, death form complications, and survivals..
a good 75% died on the table while a few others died form complications..... very few survived the operations
Many inmates were Sterilized and could not reproduce. There was no age limit to those admitted, although the school was advertised for
children. There were 4 Superintendents within a year and a half.
# Seclusion wards were on M-1, U-2, K-1, K-2, V-2 and I-2
# One patient was burned by a hot bath
# One patient was thrown out of a window
# One patient stole of a bottle of Thorozine, drank the entire bottle and died the next day
# One patient was hung on the porch which began the Investigation of Pennhurst
Ghost Adventures visited this location and as part of their investigation they had to discover some of the things that happened and were witnessed at
Pennhurst. I am posting these vids for the information gained from those that were interviewed;
Only a full and proper case study of Pennhurst state will ever reveal the horrors that occured inside these 120 acres. Maybe then we can discover
those who were involved in any crimes, those who knew and did nothing, those who were supposed to keep the place in order (government funding etc) for
any answers to come forwards.
It truly is a place that has seen something that it should not have. As a side note, I did a search for just the single word 'Pennhurst' on the ATS
search feature, and NOTHING was found...
A long time ago, an old woman told me that certain types of individual are attracted to certain professions
It's not a popular theory. For example, the spouses and families of prison wardens would take exception and claim 'their' warden to be a
compassionate, fair and decent example and how lucky we all are to have people like him/her in our society
Fact remains that some of the most brutal, sadistic and perverted individuals seek positions within prisons, asylums, aged-care homes and institutions
dedicated to children
It cannot be coincidence that the most vulnerable in society are preyed upon by those paid to care for them and that the predators are able to find
those who will either turn a blind eye or take part in the exploitation of their charges
For example, today, in Queensland Australia, a lone whistle-blower lives a life of hell and depression brought about by things she witnessed as a
nurse and the losing battle she's waged against corrupt politicians who've repeatedly covered-up and denied
The whistle-blower, aided by those too terrified to reveal their identity, has uncovered evidence of a young mentally and physically challenged young
man who 'died' only a few years ago in one of the State's supposedly better care-homes. His elderly mother was not informed of his death for
several days. The cause of his death is suspect. However what has been documented is that he was 'excoriated' -- in other words, his rectum and
surrounding flesh were cored like an apple
Further, $400,000 from monies set aside for the young man's long-term care at the home --- has 'gone missing'
In addition, his mother's name was removed from documents naming her as her son's legal guardian. And the manager of the care home replaced her as
guardian. All without the mother's consent
At the same care-home, according to the witness and numerous other nurses, elderly patients in their 80's were beaten by nurses and left beneath
freezing cold showers. Anyone who attempted to rescue the elderly patients were warned to mind their own business
This sort of thing is reportedly continuing right now. Yet the State health authorities and politicians are concerned only about concealing these
disgusting crimes from the public
The depressing reality often is that when people and children are placed 'out of sight, out of mind' --- they become prey for perverted, satanic
predators who are PAID as they torture life's vulnerable at their leisure
And the sad thing is that we have many of these types of groups that share this common problem.
There is always news about some group or club that has some form of abuse going on.
Lately, there is all the fuss with the abuse by priests in Ireland. Even the pope has had accusations made against him in some form. A scout leader
was jailed recently for what he got up to, then we had the woman who was working in a child day care center here in the UK.
It's just endless.
What is the root cause? Not everyone gets caught, but of those who do, there is uproar in the media.
Unfortunately for Pennhurst, it would seem that many suffered over a much longer period and many have gotten away with the things they did. No amount
of money is going to make these things stop. It will just make the environments more comfortable for the abusers...
We can't just put up CCTV everywhere or put barbed wire around places to stop people getting in or out.. where there is a will, there is a way.
Shortcuts are always found.
When we discover how bad a person truly is, we then have to take a long look at ourselves and wonder why we never saw the signs.. Blind faith and
trust comes into play there.. that's what you built your original basis on.
Edit to add;...
I have spent some time trying to nail down certain types of information. And i have now found quite a bit in one site. Pennhurst Information
It contains interviews, personal accounts, photos used in the trial, abuse complaint forms, documents, video and more..
There are some real treasures in this link such as this
map and guide to the entire area.
There is a lot of info in this site and well worth investigating.
Extralien, I wish I never had seen this thread, I had a very hard time getting through your OP. I wish I had never heard about the mentally retarded
children at Pennhurst State School and Hospital. I wish I never had witnessed such suffering and degradation of human beings. It is heartbreaking and
a sad reminder of how those who needs our compassion and help the most, sometimes get nothing but abuse.
But I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the great work you have done writing your OP. I thank you for speaking the cause of the forgotten and
degraded, and I am giving your thread a bump in the hope that many will read it.
Sadly, I also think Dock9 is right, closed institutions has been and still are magnets for evil and perverted people who prey on the helpless. It is
even more sad that so many of these predators never have been and never will be made to pay for their crimes. They do instead receive pay checks.
I too, wish i had never found out about it. But I am so glad that I did.
There is nothing on ATS about Pennhurst.
It is one of those issues that many do not like to discuss and wish had never happened, but we must be made aware of it for the memory of those who
were lost in this living hell.
Not only were they trapped inside the bodies they had been given but they were also used and abused in this horrific manner. It deeply saddens me to
know the dates at which this occurred.
One of the major events that helped to cover this up, and very possibly contributed towards the events here was;
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, the Vietnam Conflict or the American War , was a Cold War military conflict that
occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from September 26, 1959 to April 30, 1975.
So you can imagine why Pennhurst was refused brasiers at the time of request as money and resources were obviously being driven towards other agendas.
This is why I detest what the vice president was saying at the end of the NBC interview.
S and F definitely for this one. It is sad and makes me even more sad that it does not really surprise me. The best way to combat this kind of things
seems to be exposing it to light. Even if it is too late for these kids, thanks for bringing this story to the attention of folks like myself who had
never heard about it.
Its such a sad subject to have to write about, to think that the people who did this were actualy employed by the state and will never be caught or
punished for these horific crimes against humanity.
It has all slipped into the past and has been forgotten , the biggest shame is that it is brought to peoples attention again, in a Paranormal series ,
in my opinion it has should have been brought back for different reasons than for the entertainment branch, the people who were responsable need to
answer some questions, others are still standing trial for dehumanization today.
I am still researching into this.
There appears to be a lot of information floating around on the internet.
And I am stunned by what I have just found..
Two stories written by two patients of Pennhurst.
Story number 1;
Lost In A Desert World
CREATOR: Roland Johnson (author)
SOURCE: Available at selected libraries
After that long ride up there, it was just horrible. That was very scary. Very, very frightening. I was crying that I would never see them again, my
family or sisters. We went out into this great big institution that I didn't know anything about.
I saw Pennhurst for the first time. Where you come down on the main road you see this big thing up at Pennhurst, the water tower, coming in to
Pennhurst. Things looked different to me -- because it wasn't like a house that I lived in. I'm out here in this gray institution with three
thousand people that live in it. It was just something that I didn't like. They had a playground there as you come to a dead end. And the office.
One of the first things I recall seeing is the attendant with the wooden leg hobbling down the railroad track toward the station. Old Pegleg had been
fired. He was not needed -- now that all these young men had come to be "tendants," as the patients called them, at Pennhurst. Moreover, they said,
that leg could bruise and hurt you when he used it as a paddle. The "patients" were the mentally handicapped, 1500 of them, divided by gender into
two encampments: women and girls on the hill, men and boys in the valley.
But this was 1944 and we said "mentally deficient" in those days; later it became "retarded," and today one says "challenged." The new young men
were the 30 members of Civilian Public Service Unit #129 who had arrived, some with their wives, to serve out their time in service alternative to the
armed forces. In fact it was they who were challenged -- their ideal of nonviolence was to be put to the test as they handled the inmates and mixed
with the staff.
Philadelphia Inquirer front page feature on David Ferleger's 23 year involvement in the landmark litigation.
November 4, 1997
PENNHURST: LAWSUIT WITHOUT END
The rights of Pennhurst's alumni have been well guarded for years. But amid bounty, some feel forsaken.
Lawsuit aids some retarded at all costs
By L. Stuart Ditzen
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
IT WAS 1974, and David Ferleger was 26 and just two years out of the University of Pennsylvania law school when he presented himself at the federal
courthouse in Philadelphia and filed a class-action lawsuit that would become famous.
So heartbreaking. Noone deserves to live like this. Innocent ppl who are unable to fend or take care of themselves. My heart aches for these ppl. We
dont even treat the worst of the worst this way. Theres a soul in there that begs to be free from this torment, a soul not too different from ours. By
the grace of God or by dumb luck each one of us escaped this nightmare. I almost want to say I wish I hadnt read this but were obligated to carry the
memories of these ppl, it's the least we can do. They cant be helped, but we can help others like them. We, as humans, are obligated to protect those
who cannot protect themselves. Kharma, in this life or the next, Kharma, and She's a real bitch when it comes time to deal out just punishments.
I don't live too far away from Pennhurst, and I've been there a couple of times (since it's closed obviously).
It's actually illegal to set foot on the property, it's patrolled by security/police and there is also some sort of Military operations right next
to the old buildings.
The place is said to be haunted, which drove myself and 2 car loads of my friends to go and check the place out. We went during the day the first
time, and as it grew dark (we parked far away) we tried to creep up to the buildings. We we forced to hide out in the woods when security was on to
us (you can a huge fine for being found on the property).
We left, and then came back a 2nd time with a plan. The second time we went we parked our cars in a place that was hidden by an old abandoned
building, and started to creep through some paths we found in the woods and finally we were able to figure out when security made their rounds near
the facilities that they patrol. Once the coast was clear we finally got to go in the buildings and check them out. There is a lot of stuff left in
the buildings, although a lot of people have ruined the places - they've been vandalized heavily - however there are still papers, which after we
checked them out were actually documents about patients that had been there. The place is pretty creepy. I don't particularly believe in ghosts per
say, but if I had to choose some haunted buildings as possible places for ghosts to be hiding out, I'd choose the buildings at Pennhurst.
There is still a lot of old machines and stuff in the place as well. There's also some of the mortuary left, although this was a few years ago so I
don't know what is left right now. I should have taken some of the papers we found, too bad we didn't go a long time ago before people took
everything or ruined it for the most part.
If you're ever in PA and have the time, you should try sneaking in. It's definitely an experience... And if I remember correctly we have some
pictures that we took, I will have to see if I can find them but no promises.
By the way I shared all this because it goes along with the horrible stories about Pennhurst. We obviously knew all about it before going, we did a
lot of research before going actually. The place was messed up when it was active, and I'm very glad it got shut down eventually.
S&F for you OP. Nobody seems to care about the less fortuneate. In my case, which I have a thread about in the Medical Issues & Conspiracies forum
titled the Agent Orange Benefits Act is Discriminatory, I would've most likely been put into this facility since I was born in PA (had I been born
during this time period instead of in the 70s. I believe that there is a special place in Hell for those who unleash their sadistic practices upon
these helpless souls.
Not only was patient abuse going on at Pennhurst, but satanism was
running rampant there. My parents were friends with a psychiatrist who worked there,
and he used to tell us stories....and honestly , I am not sure if it was the patients, but I have a feeling it may have been the
employees...considering the crimes against humanity that they perpetrated there. The one thing I do remember him telling us is that he could tell
when they were meeting because they would hang bones or a dead animal somewhere. I remember him also saying how horrible the place was. I was
pretty young, and I am pretty sure my parents didn't like him talking to us about his scary work.
I have handicapped children and I'm not going to be around to protect them forever. The thought they could end up in a place like this haunts my
nightmares. In my opinion, anyone who abuses a handicapped person should be put to death, or castrated at the very least, on the outside chance that
this kind of abuse is passed along genetically. Our society has gone soft and is unable to look at the harshness of life and therefore, unable to
protect the people least able to protect themselves.
Thank you for this thread. It is necessarily depressing. I don't have time right now to click on the links and read more; this building is still
standing? Tear it down, build a memorial so that we can remember our mistakes.
Originally posted by greatpiino
Thank you for this thread. It is necessarily depressing. I don't have time right now to click on the links and read more; this building is still
standing? Tear it down, build a memorial so that we can remember our mistakes.
Yes the buildings (notice plural) are still standing. This place is pretty huge, and I have no idea why they haven't knocked down the buildings and
sold the land off for something that could be used positively.
They would never make any sort of memorial because the county/state really does not like talking about Pennhurst, let alone admitting the horrible
atrocities that went on there while it was open. Actually, there is still bad things going on there now even with it closed. I remember when I went
there were dirty needles and stuff laying around, people go there to use the place to party - for all we know people get raped in there to this day
(although I'm not sure people do do that).
The place does need to be knocked down and the land is huge they should make a park or something there for everyone to use. It would be a great thing
to do with such a horrible place.
I actually grew up a few miles from Pennhurst and visited the site on multiple occasions. When I was growing up, the majority of the property was off
limits and was patrolled full time by security officers. On a recent trip back to PA I wanted to show my Fiancee the site as I had described our
adventures there many times. I was surprised to learn that it was now acting as a military reserve base (ROTC or something?). We were able to drive
about a quarter of a mile down the road into Pennhurst, but shortly came across no tresspassing signs. A few hundred feet later, we a white truck
started to follow us. I pulled over in a lot, and started to make a u-turn and saw the security logo on the side of the truck.
So growing up we heard all the stories regarding the Pennhurst facility. I always assumed that many of the stories were made up or at least
drastically exaggerated, but based on the first had experiences we had visting the site and exploring the various buildings, it seemed more and more
like reality. As I matured, and began to research some of the history it actually began to sicken me to believe that the stories could be and
possibly were true.
One of the many stories was that a good number of patients from Pennhurst were let go when the facility was closed. These individuals were
consistently seen walking on main street, or through town. We knew their names, and had labeled them all as crazy.
Anyway, I just wanted to weigh in on this quickly, I was surprised to see this peice of my past pop back up on ATS.
I can tell you that in our many visits to the site, we were never able to locate any "confidental" or offical records, but we visited many of hte
buildings. Years had gone by and furnishings disappeared, so it was often difficult to determine what buildings or rooms would have been used for. I
can say that at night the entire campus had an eerie feeling. Even as an "unfrightenable teenager" I vividly remeber a feeling of inner terror when
exploring the buildings.
I also remember a system of cement tunnels that ran beneath the Pennhurst facility. We always stated that they were used traveling between buildings
undetected, (like when transporting a corpse, etc). They may have just been drainage tunnels but in our own minds, they served a greater purpose.
One evening we decided to explore the tunnels, and after 5 or 10 minutes walking into them our flashlight died. We all ran as quickly as we could, in
the dark, to the other side. When we emerged we were looking at one of the scariest looking buildings I have seen to date. We explored this building
and located lots of medical equipment and restraints, which seemed out of place as it looked more like a house than a hospital or infarmary. We have
been in the other buildings which had the frames from hundreds of hospital style beds, but none of that was present in this building. The aged
furnishings that remained were more like what you would expecte in a home or office, and as such we were perplexed by the Medical equipment.
Anyway, I have bounced all over this topic, and wanted to keep this post brief, but I just wanted to weigh in and say that this is/was for real. I
will try to add more relevant details and comments to the thread as it progresses.
Your thoughts are mirrored from another poster and makes for a highly interesting discussion in relation to what happened at Pennhurst.
What makes us all do the things we do? It really does go beyond belief as to what drives us into doing these types of jobs. We all know what we would
be saying at the interview, but deep down there has to be some other motive, be it good or bad, or a mix of both.
Just because some may think naughty things, it does not mean they will carry them out. Different levels of 'pleasure' for all, i suppose.
It also helps us to see how we desensitize ourselves from such things.
Many of the locals in the area refuse to talk about what happened, like it never existed. The project to preserve Pennhurst seems to have good faith
in mind yet has an odd twist to it when you look under the covers. Why would you want to keep something like this place?
Once called the shame of the nation, the Pennhurst State School and Hospital was the epicenter of a civil and human rights movement that
changed the way the world saw people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The atrocities of neglect at Pennhurst resulted in Supreme
Court litigation that sounded the death knell for institutionalization worldwide. Through preservation and adaptive re-use of the historic Pennhurst
campus, the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance seeks to ensure that those achievements won at Pennhurst are neither lost nor forgotten. We
seek to reclaim this once painful place as a center of conscience, healing, and outreach. This process is essential in the creation and preservation
of a society where, all people are valued and respected, and where all people have the knowledge, opportunity, and power to improve their lives and
the lives of others.
Recently recognized as an International Site of Conscience, Pennhurst offers the opportunity to again achieve something unique and revolutionary.
Re-use of this powerfully emotive site in form and footprint will give a foundation for a better future. A research center, interpretive center,
archive, and conference facility will encourage understanding of the past while keeping current issues relevant through ongoing dialogue.
To a degree, I can understand what they are saying, especially as Pennhurst has been used in many other similar cases and was the basis of modern
welfare for many individuals in the USA. Yet, it's also a slap in the face.. Almost a message that says "Ha, here is hell.. we will not let you
forget the death and torment that happened here".
According to some snippits of info I have been reading, there was one nurse who was stamped to death by an inmate. I'm seeing lots of little bits of
death in many forms all over the net. Some died at the hands of the surgeons whilst the patients struggled. Some were suicides, others murdered. It is
a right mess. Trying to find exact details of all these examples, to add as evidence for the thread, is hard going.
The fact is throughout history the mentally ill and disabled have been treated this way or far worse. being schizo or manic was looked on as
untreatable except through things like labotomies and such. Very sad. Ever hear of the saying "a ship of fools"? Thats because used to when the
asylums got so full of patients they would pick out the worst ones, stuff them all on a wooden ship and just sail it out into the middle of the
ocean....the things we do to each other.
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