Civil Commitment Theory by HC120807074212


									Civil Commitment Theory
  Sherrie Brown
  LSJ 332/CHID 332
  Spring 2007
Legal Justification for Civil Commitment
   Parens Patriae
       Traditional role of state as “sovereign and guardian of
        persons under legal disability.”
       Used as justification for involuntary institutionalization of
        people with mental disabilities in mid-19th Century USA.
       Theory is that state has obligation to protect interests of
        those who cannot do so for themselves—requires finding of
       Typically used to commit people who are considered danger
        to themselves.
   Police Power
       Purpose is to protect society from potential harm—e.g.,
        criminal laws and public health codes
       Justification for commitment of people with mental illness
        who are considered danger to others.
       Unlike criminal defendants, people facing police power
        commitments can be confined without proof that they
        violated criminal law.
Constitutional Theories to Challenge Institutionalization
   14th Amendment
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject
    to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of
    the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce
    any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of
    citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any
    person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;
    nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
    protection of the laws.

   8th Amendment
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed,
    nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
O’Connor v. Donaldson (U.S. Supreme Court 1975)
   FACTS:
      Mr. Donaldson civilly committed in 1957 and institutionalized for 15 years.
      His father initiated the commitment because his son “suffering from delusions.”
      Diagnosis was paranoid schizophrenia and commitment for “care, maintenance
        and treatment.”
      No evidence of danger to self or others and employed prior to commitment.
   ISSUE:
      Was Donaldson’s continued commitment a violation of his constitutional right to
      Yes.
      Involuntary commitment is deprivation of liberty which state cannot do without
        due process of law.
      Must be justified on basis of legitimate state interest and confinement must cease
        when those reasons no longer exist.
      Basis of confinement violated very fundamentals of due process when no
        treatment was provided.
         Who Qualifies for Rights?
    Mayor Koch justified the commitment of Joyce Brown in the
    “name of both human rights and human decency,” according
    to Failer. A member of the HHC also defended the new
    interpretation of commitment standards as “an effort to
    protect the rights of the mentally ill homeless. ‘For the first
    time there is a recognition of the patients’ right to treatment,
    and their freedom from the prison of mental illness, rather than
    the freedom to die in the streets.’”

   What human rights and whose rights do you think Koch is
    considering and are they the same rights that the member of
    the HHC was referring to in the above quote?
           Questions continued…
     Joyce Brown was successful in convincing the lower
     court judge that the city of NY had infringed on her
     rights by committing her against her will.

2.   What testimony convinced the judge that NYC had
     erred and what specific right did he say had been
     denied Ms. Brown?

3.   Do you agree with his reasoning (based on what you
     know of the trial) and why/why not?
                         And finally…
    The primary issue in the case study was the power of the state to
     involuntarily commit Joyce Brown. However, another issue raised was the
     power of the state to forcibly medicate her against her will.

4.   Take the position that involuntarily commitment of Ms. Brown was
     appropriate. And, assume that “therapy for schizophrenics is ineffective
     unless accompanied by chemical treatment.” Do you also believe that the
     state has the power to forcibly medicate her?

5.   Change the facts in the case as follows: Joyce Brown is charged with a
     crime and is declared to be incompetent to stand trial. However,
     psychiatrists state that she would be competent if she took her medication
     and the state wants to force her to do so. Do you believe the state should
     have the power in a criminal case?

To top