On several forums and blogs such a freerepublic, there have been debates about civil commitment and expanding laws and state hospitals and hospital psyche wards. What is disturbing is that many, even Conservatives and libertarians are more than willing to sacrifice civil liberties and safeguards against government tyranny to clear the streets of the homeless mentally ill and other similar individuals.
But the truth is that there is on the books in nearly every state, provisions that allow the involuntary commitment of those who are unable to care for themselves due to so called mental illnesses that they suffer from are already on the books. They have even been approved of as constitutional by our courts so far and have not been hampered by the ACLU and others.
A good example is projects launched by the administrations of two former New York Mayors; Ed Koch and Rudy Guiliani. In the 80s, Ed Koch launched a program to involuntary commit New York's many disturbed homeless. They ranged from drug addicts to those who suffered from brain trauma. They were to be placed in involuntary treatment and then placed into shelters and transitional housing as well as being assigned case management and other services. One of these homeless known as Joyce Patricia Brown AKA Billie Boggs, with help from the ACLU, nearly succeeded in derailing Koch's efforts. Despite suffering from psychosis brought on from drug addiction and family abuse she succeeded in escaping her treatment and won a settlement. Still, the Koch administration and project care were able to take many homeless of the streets and get them of their feet. Similar efforts by the Guiliani administration also succeeded though not as well as Koch's.
The attempts to involuntarily commit them were deemed as constitutional provided that they were done properly and that the patient was mentally ill and that it prevented them from providing themselves food or clothing and other necessities.
39 states including DC allow involuntary outpatient commitments. One of the most known and effective is California's Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act, which had been expanded for outpatient commitment. It did not just encompass those who were a threat to themselves or others but those who as a result of severe mental illness were unable to feed or cloth themselves. I have seen much of this in places like Portland, Boston and New York. Crazy people who are not allowed in homeless shelters because they assault or act belligerent towards others there and the staff, but if offered food or donation will reject and even attack those who help them. They are like wild animals only much worse. Demon possession is a good way of putting it I think.
Remember the Virginia Tech Killer Cho Seung Hui? Virginia residents want to sacrifice more of their freedom to the big government by making involuntary commitment easier. But Cho was already deemed mentally ill, was even deemed mentally incompetent and was even recommended for involuntary commitment! Virginia statutes allowed it but it was never done! For whatever zany or scatterbrained reason, the judges, the medical staff whoever was in charge and the family for that matter allowed this dangerous young man who WAS in fact an imminent danger to run along back to school and then slay his fellow classmates!
It is the opinion of this author that the government deliberately allowed this to happen as a measure of getting the American people to sacrifice more of their precious liberties to the state while as a bonus, gutting the 2nd amendment. So far neither have stopped any killing sprees.
Instead of using the laws already on the books, we let the government set up more laws and more iron chains around the necks of its citizens. Still they will not fair well.
Meanwhile it has come to my attention that several people living with so called mental illness who are perfectly capable of caring for this selves with very little help from taxpayer funded programs are being blocked from independence through unnecessary commitments. Examples include a bright young man named Nate Tseglin of Orange California who was incarcerated and drugged into oblivion for having Asperger's, another concerns Sylvia Klieber, a 29 year old woman with Bipolar under the guardianship of her mother, yet very capable and independent who is currently incarcerated in a hospital in Modesto for no reason. We will commit, drug and restrict even kill innocent people because of minor peculiarities, but we won't commit psycho killers, homeless invalids and others who truly need treatment.
In Conclusion I would just like to also opine that I in no way support the psychiatric industry or the unnecessary use of commitment. We need to be extremely careful with how it is applied.