This story is an inside look at the systematic warehousing of more than 17,000 adults and children in Serbia's mental institutions. Dateline NBC gained unprecedented access to remote, government-run facilities and found alarming and sometimes life-threatening conditions. The institutions are remnants of Serbia's communist past and symbols of a deeply ingrained prejudice against the mentally disabled and their families. Serbia's medical establishment continues to advise parents to put their mentally disabled newborns into institutions, and the government provides virtually no support for those who choose not to. In mental institutions throughout Serbia, Dateline found adults and children crammed into fetid rooms and metal cribs, their bodies emaciated, atrophied and disfigured. Some residents appeared to be children but they were actually young adults whose growth had been stunted by years of institutionalization. One of our most disturbing discoveries came while staying overnight in a dangerously overcrowded institution. There we learned that children are routinely tied to their bed railings for long periods of time - a practice that one disability rights organization says meets the legal definition of torture under international law.