Federal immigration officials, over the past year, have dramatically curtailed the controversial practice of sedating deportees with powerful anti-psychotic medication.

The move followed court challenges and a public outcry over the practice, which often involved the use of Haldol, a drug used to treat schizophrenia.

Over the past six years, through October, federal immigration personnel sedated 384 deportees, an average of 64 a year, the government disclosed. Of those cases, 356 involved the use of Haldol.

Critics said there had been no effective oversight of the process, and some continue to say that the policy violates medical ethics. They praised the use of the court order and sedation restrictions.

Though the agency has dramatically reduced its use of Haldol to sedate deportees, the practice remains controversial.

Haldol is used to treat schizophrenia and such psychotic symptoms as hallucinations, delusions and hostility.

Medical authorities say the use of Haldol carries potential complications. The drug can trigger such adverse reactions as muscular spasms and a condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome that can result in a coma and even death if left untreated.