The Connecticut General Assembly ends its legislative session at midnight on Wednesday. One of bills that was passed Tuesday night would create an independent task force to oversee Whiting Forensic Hospital, the state’s only maximum-security psychiatric facility.
The bill comes five months after the repeated cruel abuse of a patient at Whiting, which was captured on video tape. Representative Mike Bocchino, a Republican from Greenwich, urged his colleagues in the House to vote for the bill. Bocchino said the abused patient is the brother of one his constituents, who brought the incident to public attention after watching the video.
“And when he looked at the video, what did he see? Complete and utter abuse of his brother by the staff members. This can no longer happen in the State of Connecticut nor should it happen across this country.”
The bill also requires the State Department of Public Health to conduct an extensive on-site inspection and review of the records at Whiting and requires mandatory reporting of suspected patient abuse at certain state behavioral health facilities. The House passed the bill unanimously. It had already won unanimous approval in the Senate over the weekend.
The bill now heads to Governor Malloy for his signature. Malloy had recently used his executive powers to change the structure of the Middletown facility, making it a stand-alone entity known as Whiting Forensic Hospital.
Ten staff members have been criminally charged and more than three dozen have been suspended in connection with alleged abuse involving one patient.