Friday, June 27, 2014

We are making a making a mockery of Civil Rights - Personally Speaking

(June 23, 2014) I was the probate judge in Contra Costa County for 11 years. I am here to support the implementation of Laura’s Law in our county.

gavelLaura's Law provides a very thorough protection of the civil rights of the persons with severe mental illness. But, you will hear claims that Laura's Law is an infringement of civil rights.

At the core of our civil rights is our ability to choose to do what we want. When a person is unable to understand the nature and consequences of their decisions because of their illness, that person is fundamentally deprived of the ability to exercise any civil rights.

When we consider civil rights in this context, we should consider the annihilation of the civil rights of victims of homicide by persons with untreated severe mental illness.

We should consider the civil rights of people who are severely injured, whose lives are changed forever.
We should consider the civil rights of the families of the victims of the violence by persons with mental illness.

We should consider the horror for someone who is treated successfully, then learns they have done terrible things while untreated. They will find no comfort in being told we only cared about their civil rights and not at all about giving them the treatment they needed.

We should consider the civil rights of the vast majority of persons with mental illness who are shunned because of the public’s fear that all mentally ill people are violent, making it harder for consumers to find places to live and to get jobs.

We make a mockery of civil rights when we ignore people with severe mental illness, leaving them on the streets until they do something we characterize as a crime, then we lock them in our overcrowded jails and prisons.

Laura’s Law will fill a gap in our mental health system. We currently have no option treating people with severe and persistent mental illness who have demonstrated violent tendencies and do not accept treatment voluntarily.


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