June 29, 1987 12:00 PM

ABC (Fri., June 26, 8:30 p.m. ET)


ABC’s latest Closeup documentary reports on two tragedies: how America once abused its mentally ill in institutions and how they are abused now on the streets and in jails. By letting the mentally ill speak for themselves, the show does a superb job of reminding us that these are people who deserve better lives. You hear from a woman who lost her five children to foster homes, a frightened young man in jail and a bright young Harvard man who lost his sanity and became a burden his family could not handle. The show tells us what doesn’t work, such as laws that were meant to protect patients from asylums but now prevent them from being treated. Then we see what does work, like small, humane homes where the mentally ill can live decently. It is a fine report on a forgotten crisis, one that deserves follow-up attention on Night-line and the nightly news.

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