What is the appropriate role of state hospitals? Some argue that there is no legitimate role for them, that they are obsolete, inhumane, and a drain on mental health resources. Others hold that the complete elimination of state hospitals would constitute abandonment of people in great need, people who cannot get the services they require elsewhere. This volume of New Directions for Mental Health Services examines the role of state hospitals from a number of perspectives, addressing issues of clinical technology as well as policy. From this examination emerges a view of the state hospital of the future, a model that integrates the key technological and economic considerations and social values expected to determine the future of state hospitals.This is the 84th issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Mental Health Services. For more informationon the series, please see the New Directions for Mental Health Services page.