Anti-psychotic drugs meant to treat mental illness were being used instead as chemical restraints on youths incarcerated in Texas Youth Commission facilities, Commissioner Scott Fisher told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The medications, which have a sedating effect, are intended to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but were used on youths who did not have those diagnoses. Fisher, said the commission has worked over the past year to implement a system that focuses on matching drugs to need.
Fisher spoke after an investigation by Youth Today uncovered extensive use of anti-psychotics with incarcerated juvenile offenders nationwide. Texas’ spending on the drugs was among the highest. Critics say the drugs have replaced leather straps as a way to keep youths under control. Supporters say the drugs reduce aggression and soothe, making youth “more malleable” to treatment, according to Youth Today. Commission Executive Director Cherie Townsend learned in 2008, after taking the job, that more than a quarter of the youths in her facilities were on anti-psychotic medication, Youth Today reported.