Wednesday, February 15, 2012


House Judiciary committee passes involuntary commitment bill

by Larry Geller

The crazy bill I wrote about yesterday, HB2011, was passed by the Judiciary committee with as yet unknown amendments.

This is the bill that would permit your neighbor to file papers to have you committed. Maybe the folks next door don’t like your choice of music.

As a commenter pointed out, it would also allow treatment facilities to “trade” patients. Maybe the receiving facility would like to try out some new experimental drugs on you… no kidding.

I thought you should know who voted to pass this. If it becomes law, I might take out complaint papers against each of them. Why? You’d have to be crazy to pass this bill, as I said. And they did.

Voting yes on HB2011 yesterday:

Keith-Agaran, Rhoads, Brower, Cabanilla, Herkes, Ito, Luke, Souki, Tsuji, Fontaine, Marumoto, Thielen


Wha? I just read it, and the bill does not allow your neighbor to do any such thing, Larry. Unless your neighbor is a police officer, mental health worker, or clinical psychologist.

Try pointing out which specific section of the bill has the effect you claim, please.

I did quote the bill in the earlier article, quod vide.

It may not specifically say "your neighbor" but the broadness, generality and vagueness in the very poor wording would allow that to occur.
As well, many people have neighbors that are also health care workers, police, etc. and if youʻve a got a beef with them, look out.
Besides, I do not believe people like cops, etc. have any business making this call.
You do realize Hawaii law already has provisions and this bill is a ʻvalue-addedʻ version.

Could it be the part about involuntary commitment for a person who is "gravely disabled, or is obviously ill, and in need of care or treatment."?

Sounds pretty vague to me! (You no longer have to be an imminent danger to yourself or others!)That's a radical change!

It is vague. A poor bill.

But you know, unless there is testimony against this, it could pass...

I found the language, Larry, and you're right that any person may initiate a report. However, that's only the first step in the involuntary commitment process. Before actually BEING committed the person is provided a lawyer, given due process where mental health professionals participate, etc.

So, unless your neighbors opinion of you is correct and the professionals determine that you are indeed mentally ill and a danger to yourself/others, I think your civil liberties concerns are overplayed in this bill. A more compassionate and less conspiratorial view of this bill is that it would provide a way for a neighbor to initiate a process that leads to treatment for a genuinely mentally ill person (of which there are far too many going undiagnosed).

There is no clear definition of mental health professional. I did case management for Felix kids and ran an autism clinic, would I qualify?

Providing a lawyer to a person who faces committment isn't a great option. Jails are full of innocent people who have been provided a lawyer.

Also, I'm not being conspiratorial, actually I know a little about the background of this bill and still feel it is a great danger to civil liberites.

Finally, it is not up to us as individuals to determine (diagnose) who is mentally ill and to decide that they need treatment. Mental illness is a spectrum, at one end blending into "typical" behavior. Where do you draw the line? And should you draw the line? Doesn't this contribute to the stigma of mental illness? Are we supposed to sweep the streets of anyone we think is odd?

I would draw the line (like the bill) at people who are a danger to themselves or others.

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