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schmuey

civil rights

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I am a law school graduate who has just been appointed to the Berkeley Mental Health Commission.

The City of Berkeley has adopted a practice ( and perhaps a tacit policy) of placing homeless persons

on

involuntary psychiatric holds who DO NOT MEET the health and welfare

"51/50" criteria but who are instituionalized under a misapplication of

the " failure to self care" test. Inability to "take care of self" is

being randomly applied to homeless persons on the basis of ther status

as homeless. Additonally, profiling citizens known to the coummity

mental health facility or to the police as a "psychiatric patient"

is

common place. I am also concerned with the profiling of "mental health

patients" when it takes the form of improper application of the Health

and Welfare and Institutions Code in the involuntary

instituionalization of "mental health patients" who commit or are

accused of committing illegal or tortious acts WHERE NO NEXUS CAN BE

SHOWN between the mental illness and the conduct in question.

My questions are as follows:

1) Are you aware of any class action law suits regarding the misapplication of health and welfare and

institutions code..either on the basis of homeless persons mischaracterized as per se "mentally ill"?

or on the basis of profiling where status as a "mental health patient" is sufficient coupled with any

conduct or cognition deemed problematic to justify a psychiatric hold?

2) Where should I look for cases..and for guidelines for appropriate guidelines of applicable guidelines?

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Schmuey -

Well, the first place to look is in the annotations to the Code sections--but as a law grad, I'm sure you knew that. (By the way, it's "Welfare and Institutions Code" not "Health and Welfare and Institutions Code.) You could also contact some of the mental health advocacy resources in California. Here are some to get you started:

Mental Health Advvocacy Servces: http://www.mhas-la.org/

Protection & Advocacy, Inc.: http://www.pai-ca.org

CAMHPRA: http://www.camhpra.org/home/

Good luck.

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