Pennhurst has a long history of patient mistreatment and neglect. It was found to contain horrific, abusive practices. Built to be mostly self sufficient with little contact from the outside world, Pennhurst fell into a deep, dark hell from which it would never awaken.
Pennhurst first opened its doors in November of 1908, and due to pressure to accept not only the mentally and physically handicapped, but also immigrants, criminals and orphans, it was overcrowded in a few years. By the mid 1960s it housed 2,791 people, most of them children, only 9 medical doctors and 11 teachers; which was still 900 more than the the buildings could accommodate. It was eventually closed in 1986.
Patients were chained to walls, children kept for years in cribs of cold metal, human waste such as feces and vomit lined the floors of the asylum, and even murders were carried out here. One patient burned alive, another hanged, yet another thrown out a window. Many were exposed to physical abuses and sexual assaults.
Found in a chest of documents: A three ring binder completly filled with files of patients and how they died. Most patients had died from “restraints” or “patient got out of hand, doctors (or nurses) handled.”