(NaturalNews) An investigation into the massive drugging of kids in Florida juvenile jails has uncovered psychiatric doctors with deplorable records working for the state's Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Their histories include not only grand theft and medical malpractice, but overmedicating patients to the point of death.
In a series of outstanding articles in the Palm Beach Post, reporter Michael Laforgia lays out the heinous trail of a still unfolding investigation. It began with an expose that children in state custody were receiving heavy dosages of powerful antipsychotics; in two years, Florida bought hundreds of thousands of these tablets with no DJJ tracking system in place to detect practitioner abuse. This led to a finding that doctors giving the diagnoses had taken huge speaker fees or gifts from drug companies that make antipsychotics.
The Post's newest article reveals psychiatrists working in the juvenile justice system whose records should have barred them. "Some psychiatrists took DJJ jobs after they were cited for breaking the law, making grave medical missteps or violating state rules," writes Laforgia. "Others were hired after they were accused of overmedicating patients, sometimes fatally. All were empowered to prescribe drugs to jailed kids as powerful antipsychotic pills flowed freely into Florida's homes for wayward children."
Dr. Gold Smith Dorval pleaded no contest in 2004 to a grand theft charge after a probe found he billed Medicaid for more than $350,000 in fraudulent claims - under the pretense of providing therapy to juvenile delinquents and foster children. No one screened Dorval's background in 2007 before a state-contracted agency, Compass Health Systems, sent him to work at a juvenile detention center that year. He states he was "not aware of any wrongdoing" in accepting the job.
Dr. Charles D. Jack prescribed such powerful cocktails of antidepressants and painkillers to a patient over a two and a half year period that she died in 2002, at age 42. Facing charges, Dack denied wrongdoing but agreed to pay a $7000 fine and take a course on misprescribing. None of this prevented him from working until April of this year at three privately-run juvenile treatment facilities used by the DJJ.
Dr. Samuel McClure diagnosed an 11-year-old with ADD and although the boy was quite small for his age, he gave him high concentrations of antidepressants which had never been approved for children. The mother woke one morning to find her son dead on the floor. Despite being sued in 2004 for medical malpractice - a case settled for $500,000 - McClure worked in juvenile treatment homes from January 2006 until June 2009.
Dr. Sohail Punjwani, another psychiatrist, conducted a drug trial on seven children in 2006, six of whom overdosed. One slashed her wrists while hallucinating, per a later FDA warning letter to Punjwani. He went on to work at a juvenile detention center and then for the foster care system. In 2009 he prescribed a very potent combo of psychoactive drugs to a 7-year old who subsequently locked himself in the bathroom of his foster home and hanged himself. Punjwani blames his medication errors with the boy on the nurse.
Per the Palm Beach Post, records show "roughly one in eight of the psychiatrists who have worked for DJJ in the past five years has settled a malpractice lawsuit in Florida."
Florida's DJJ Secretary now has a probe underway into this matter and the abuse of antipsychotics by the department. No long term studies have ever proven these drugs safe for kids. But plenty of evidence shows they can create heavy weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, involuntary facial and body movements, suicidal thoughts and a life of drug dependency.
Prominent California psychiatrist under trial for molesting boys in juvenile justice system
Another example of exploiting the most vulnerable is the once highly regarded child psychiatrist, Dr. William Ayres.
Ayres is undergoing legal proceedings in San Mateo California for accusations of molesting boys in state care, under the guise of giving medical exams. Prosecutors say he knew these youths would hesitate to come forward and probably wouldn't be believed if they did.
During his forty years in practice, Ayres saw hundreds of adolescents referred by the juvenile justice system, court-appointed attorneys and social workers. Several of these victims have testified against him.
Ayres was a former president of the American Academy of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry, the leading professional medical association for child psychiatrists. In 2002 he was honored with a lifetime achievement award for "his tireless effort to improve the lives of children and adolescents."
Now 79, Ayres says he has no memory of the victims who have accused him.
State Mental Hospital Director sentenced to 248 years in prison for molesting foster kids
Yet another high profile figure in the mental health world - Claude Edward Foulk - was sentenced in February 2011 to 248 years in prison for molesting foster sons and other boys over a period of four decades. Reportedly, he would threaten to return them to foster care if they didn't comply. But some of those victims, now grown men, went to the police.
Prior to his arrest in 2010, Foulk was the executive director of the Napa State Hospital, California's largest mental health facility which includes sex offenders in its patient population. Faulk was selected to run the hospital by the Director of the Department of Mental Health in California.
"Hey, I didn't do anything wrong"
What's disturbing is the diabolical lack of accountability reflected in these psychiatrists' statements and actions. Denying accusations, shifting blame, justifying atrocities. Equally disturbing is how many government agencies, schools and parents blindly place children in the hands of these pseudo-doctors. Yet they do not use blood tests, brain scans or any other medical tests in diagnosing mental disorders and putting millions of kids worldwide on powerful drugs.
The sordid history of psychiatry's vigorous and deceptive campaign to medicalize itself and put it on stature with other MDs is covered in Robert Whitaker's book released in 2010: "Anatomy of an Epidemic."
About the author: Monica G. Young is a human rights investigator and educational writer with a purpose to expose the truth about the pharmaceutical and psychiatric industries and safeguard human liberty. She encourages non-drug alternative approaches based on healthy lifestyles and human decency. She supports the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and like-minded groups. For more facts and video documentaries, see cchr.org