Senate Bill 1045 - Shades of the USSR (kidnapping and jailing people in the name of mental illness)

Scott Wiener is pushing a bill, SB1045, that would establish a "pilot program" to let authorities in SF and LA effectively incarcerate (under the euphemism of "conservatorship") people they deem mentally ill and incapable of caring for themselves. This kind of thing is very dangerous, bringing to mind the old Soviet practice of putting political dissidents in mental hospitals, and it is already happening in the U.S.:

 Many states have no data on the number of people being involuntarily held, which
means we have no national statistic on the number of people hospitalized against
their will.

 In many states, patients have commitment hearings in courts and are transported in
the same way a criminal would be.

 One patient the authors spoke with said that she was traumatized by being held
against her will and having “no voice” (p59). She noted that being treated as though
she was insane and being told they have filed papers to hold her indefinitely (even
though she was released with the help of a lawyer) was terrifying. It not only gave her
nightmares, but scared her away from treatment for a long time

 Dr. Fisher said that even in his state, Massachusetts, commitment hearings are
not true hearings. He says they are done in a “going-through-the-motions” way (p65).

 He notes there is no independent clinician whose opinion is gathered for the

 He further states that an appointed lawyer may meet with a patient only a few
minutes before a hearing and that there is no due process.

 In the emergency room, a patient must be stabilized so that the psychiatrist can
speak with them. This can mean the use of restraints, seclusion, and/or

 In some states, a patient can wait hours. In some places 12 or more hours
waiting is common. Instead of treating somebody in distress, a patient is held for
hours waiting on a bed.

 Often, the decision to admit a patient involuntarily is in the hands of a resident
meaning the decision is made by somebody with very limited experience. Also,
in many hospitals, the decision to admit is made by an emergency room doctor,
not a psychiatrist.

 One patient evaluated said that she was “stripped of any agency” and she
realized the doctors were going to “make the decision as though I were a child” (p 99).

 While in the hospital, Eleanor had little lab work done, despite the fact that the
medications prescribed to her could cause diabetes and higher lipid levels.
Also, Eleanor had an adhesive allergy that at times was ignored despite being
written in her chart.

 She was frequently sent to seclusion and forcibly injected with medications. She
believed the nurses were trying to kill her and recalled a time when a nurse told
her she was intentionally causing her pain with the injections so she would
“cooperate next time” (pg. 114). She was given these forcibly and not told what
she was given.

 Eleanor, patients, and even psychiatrists like, Julie Holland, recount heartless
and cruel patient treatment.

 Eleanor, and many other patients with similar experiences, feel that the
medications they were forcibly given at the hospital made symptoms worse

 In a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, only 7% of the 10,024 people with mental illness
interviewed had a history of violence.

 In another study following people evaluated by an emergency department, the doctors did poorly in
predicting who would or would not be violent in general. More specifically, when evaluating women for
dangerousness they did no better than chance.

 In the MacArthur violence study, a patient without substance abuse issues was found no more likely to
commit a violent act than a person in the general public.

 Multiple studies have found substance abuse to be a stronger predictor of violence than mental illness in
general, but substance abuse alone cannot typically lead to involuntary hospitalization.

 All of the aforementioned studies have implications for how valid it is to involuntarily hospitalize somebody
on the pretense of danger to others

(From , more at the link)

  In one positive development, the BART directors just voted not to endorse SB 1045, though too many of them were willing to do so (see Those supporting the bill to allow forced incarceration included District 2 supervisor candidate Nick Josefowitz, who's running against our endorsed candidate John Dennis, along with Debora Allen, John McPartland, and Thomas Blalock.

  BART director Robert Raburn voted against the involuntary incarceration of people who haven't committed crimes; directors Lateefah Simon and Rebecca Saltzman abstained, while directors Bevan Dufty (who requested the vote) and Joel Keller were absent.

  Hopefully John Dennis will differentiate himself from his opponent by taking a strong stance against involuntary commitment of people who haven't harmed anyone, on the basis of government officials' assessment of their mental condition.

Love & Liberty,
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