Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Asylum Projects

Defendants ordered to receive treatment before they can stand trial are waiting up to a year to be admitted at one of the two state hospitals. 

A class-action lawsuit against the commonwealth from the American Civil Liberties Union's Pennsylvania office alleges that wait time is unconstitutional.

Torrance State Hospital near Pittsburgh and Norristown State Hospital near Philadelphia are perpetually full, often requiring defendants deemed unfit to stand trial sit in jail until vacancies arise.

A new Pennsylvania law was enacted Monday changing the Department of Public Welfare's title to the Department of Human Services.

Pennsylvania's DPW had been the last in the country to include the word "welfare" in its title — a term some considered weighted with negative connotations. DHS spokeswoman Cait Gillis said another problem is that the name was not reflective of the work they do at the department.

Legislation to change the name of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services passed the House before it adjourned for the summer but the Senate left Harrisburg without taking any action on the revised bill.  The Senate is scheduled to reconvene in September.