Autistic man locked in seclusion: ‘You wouldn’t do it to a dog’

by Kirsty Johnston, New Zealand Herald, 7 June 2016

Ms Johnston reports that 37-year old Ashley Peacock has been compulsorily detained in a Wellington psychiatric unit for five years because of his intellectual disabilities, despite the Ombudsman, Human Rights Commission and National Intellectual Disability Care Agency calling for his release.

More than half Ashley’s time on the “de-escalation” wing has been confined to a single, cell-like room containing nothing but a plastic-covered mattress and a urine bottle.

He sleeps there, and when staff order it, can be locked in for long periods, including a two-and-a-half year stint with less than 30 minutes out each day for exercise.

The 10m square seclusion room, part of the Tawhirimatea Unit run by Capital & Coast District Health Board, is so secret there are no pictures of it and his parents have never been allowed inside.

His elderly parents, Dave and Marlena Peacock, are fearful their son will never get out.

They say a combination of funding constraints, and a series of high-profile deaths involving mentally ill patients, are affecting Ashley’s case.

“But tightening of funding should not be a justification to deny him basic human rights,” Mrs Peacock said. “No one should have to endure what Ashley has endured. Seclusion is supposed to be a last resort, not a treatment like in his case.”

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