A Bellwether Vote from Berkeley?
(Nov. 27, 2013) Though their vote is only advisory, the Berkeley City Council last week unanimously passed a resolution urging the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to adopt California’s assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) law, known there as Laura’s Law.
A city with a strong progressive history, Berkeley has been at the fore of many emerging civil rights issues over the decades, and we commend Berkeley for taking this step to help ensure treatment for its most vulnerable citizens.
Beyond the local impact, the council vote is more evidence the view that court-ordered outpatient treatment is an abridgement of civil rights is shifting to acknowledge that the consequences of non-treatment abridge civil rights, too.
Around the country, more people are recognizing severe mental illness often affects the part of the brain that enables individuals with severe mental illness to recognize they are ill and get the help they need. They are learning that jails and prisons have replaced hospitals as the new asylums for psychiatric patients, housing far more people who are ill than psychiatric hospitals do. They are realizing that all-voluntary treatment looks good until you look at it. They are agreeing with what Dr. Drew expresses in this report from CNN’s Situation Room, which also featured Doris A. Fuller, our executive director.
We salute the Voices of Mothers Project, whose advocacy in the Berkeley area led to the city’s support. We urge all who support assisted treatment for those with the most severe mental illnesses to raise your voices, wherever you live, and work to improve treatment laws and demand that they are used to save lives and families.
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