Lawsuit Alleges Immigrant Children Forcibly Injected With Antipsychotic Drugs

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Affidavits filed in April claims that migrant children in a taxpayer-funded facility with a history of abuse allegations were forcibly injected with powerful anti-psychotic medications, Reveal reports. In an interview with Reveal, forensic psychiatrist Mark. J. Mills compared the practice to tactics used in the former Soviet Union.


An earlier investigation from Reveal and the The Center for Investigative Reporting found that billions of taxpayer dollars are going to homes and facilities that have faced serious allegations of mistreatment, including physical assault. According to court filings, children held at Shiloh Treatment Center were told they would never be released or see their parents again if they didn’t take medications, which they were told were vitamins. From Reveal:

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist here; it looks like they’re trying to control agitation and aggressive behavior with antipsychotic drugs,” said Mills, who practices in the Washington, D.C., area and was an expert witness for a lawsuit that in 2008 stopped the federal government from forcibly administering antipsychotic drugs to deportees.

“You don’t need to administer these kinds of drugs unless someone is plucking out their eyeball or some such. The facility should not use these drugs to control behavior. That’s not what antipsychotics should be used for. That’s like the old Soviet Union used to do.”

The court filings are part of a larger class-action lawsuit alleging mistreatment of migrant children in state-run facilities, and include allegations of horrific abuse that span from present-day all the way back to the Obama era, when Shiloh continued to be awarded contracts by a Democratic-led government despite reports of death, abuse, unreasonable use of restraints, and “emergency medication” (injected psychotropic drugs). One child in the class-action lawsuit was given 10 different kinds of medication—including anti-psychotics, Parkinsons medication, and seizure medication. Obviously, these are serious drugs that have severe side-effects and longterm health consequences; a parent described her child as “completely hypnotized and lethargic.”

One mother said her child fell repeatedly, hitting her head, and ended up in a wheelchair. A child described trying to open a window and being hurled against a door by a Shiloh supervisor, who then choked her until she fainted.

“The supervisor told me I was going to get a medication injection to calm me down,” the girl said. “Two staff grabbed me, and the doctor gave me the injection despite my objection and left me there on the bed.”

It is not easy to imagine being a small, frightened kid, trapped in a foreign country, separated from your parents, shipped from facility to facility, and then forcibly restrained and tortured with unnecessary and damaging meds to keep you from protesting. Every day, our capacity for imagination is going to need to expand to accommodate the scale of brutality that is taking place.

What this lawsuit describes is barbaric child abuse, and everyone involved in the implementation of Jeff Sessions’ zero-tolerance policy, which has ensured that more—and younger—children are ending up in places like this, should be held legally accountable by the next administration.


If you have something to say about it, shoot Stephen Miller a text.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.


Aside from being barbaric all the way around, it’s dangerous because the people giving the drug have zero knowledge of the kid’s medical history, and no nurses can ask the parents because they are locked up somewhere else. Kids are going to die - hell at least one has already tried suicide.