Right to Fail

Right to Fail

2019, Health  -   7 Comments
Ratings: 8.82/10 from 28 users.

In Right to Fail, the PBS Frontline series teams up with ProPublica to investigate the relocation of mentally ill populations on the outskirts of New York City. The story brings up a series of moral questions involving an adult's right to determine their own fate, and the state's obligations to its citizenry.

The city offers a variety of adult care homes for the indigent and mentally ill, which are frequently criticized for their shabby staffing and deplorable living conditions. A government ruling in 2014 permitted thousands of these residents to leave these institutions and establish a more independent existence.

Can the institutionalized live successfully within the community at large? What should be the criteria for their eligibility? How much follow-up and management care is needed to ensure their success? To what extent should we allow them to fail on their own and learn from their shortcomings so they may create better lives for themselves?

"I felt like a human being for the first time in so many years," says one of the nearly 4000 psychologically disabled residents who were released on their own following the government ruling. She, like the other benefactors of the program, was provided with an apartment and occasional visits from a caregiver.

But the period of transition begins immediately upon their release from state homes, and many are ill-equipped to deal with such a drastic change. Some quickly find themselves back on the street.

The film traces the journey of one particular patient - a schizophrenic who is set out into the world unsupervised for the first time in his life. Despite clinical reports that he hears voices, he is suggested as an ideal candidate for release. The filmmakers interview his loved ones, caregivers and the patient himself to get a sense of the road blocks he's encountered along his journey to normalcy. There was no consistency of care following his release, his support checks arrived late, and his apartment had no running water. For every success story, it seems, there are many others who are struggling without proper supervision.

Right to Fail is a compassionate look at the systems we have in place to care for the most overlooked and misunderstood among us.

Directed by: Thomas Jennings

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10 months ago


Timothy P. Dingman
2 years ago

I spent about 3 years working with high functioning, developmentally disabled young adult. His mother was suffering from M.S. He was on the "emergency" list for housing in the state of N.J. His estimated wait time was 25 years

Timothy P. Dingman
2 years ago

In the 1980's I had a female friend who was finishing her undergrad work in sociology at Douglas college and teaching at the Johnson School. It was a facility for "wayward" teens. There was a strict policy of non fraternization between the students of one or another genders'. My friend insisted that they had a right to sex as long as it was safe. It was especially poignant to me as my parents had, when I was in my early teens, threatened to have me declared a "recalcitrant" child. that would have put me in an institution in the Mid West. Today, I have a Bachelor's degree with a major in English Literature and Philosophy. I have worked as a director of finance for a small European company . During my tenure, , the corporate income increased from under $1 million to over $15. I founded a non profit that works in Newark, NJ using the work of local artists to put non profit art galleries in vacant storefronts. In 2019, we did 29 programs with a budget of about $5,000. More programs showing more artists than the Rutgers Paul Robson Gallery. I have, for the past 10 years, been working with high functioning developmentally disable young adults teaching digital photography. I have shown the student's work in galleries in Newark with no allusion to there neuro status. They have made sales

M. Bright
3 years ago

I am watching the video currently. I had no problem

margo huc
3 years ago

"Right to Fail" - received today. Why is this video "Unavailable"?
I love your videos and get them all the time and have encouraged my friends to subscribe.
This particular video would have interested me very much. Why can I not see it? Has it anything to do with the fact that I live in Canada?

don duncan
3 years ago

A private, voluntary approach worked before govt. took over. That killed off the charity and freedom. It failed. Time to return to a choice based charity. Bureaucracy always fails.

Jamie Forsyth
3 years ago

Video unavailable, already.