Beyond Overt Violence: Wisconsin's Progressive Civil Commitment Statute as a Marker of a New Era in Mental Health Law

Posted: 18 Sep 2008  

Steven K. Erickson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael J. Vitacco

Mendota Mental Health Institute

Gregory Van Rybroek

Mendota Mental Health Institute

Date Written: December 16, 2005

Abstract

The civil commitment of the mentally ill is one of the most contentious areas of mental health law. The legacy of civil commitment has encompassed a dual policy of protecting the public from the dangerously mentally ill and providing treatment for those who are unable to care for themselves. With the continued growth of outpatient mental health care as the predominant means of providing services for the mentally ill, states have adopted statutes that allow for more aggressive treatment. Many of these statutes provide for the commitment of the mentally ill under new statutory schemes that reflect the changing landscape of mental health services. This shift reflects a progressive legislative understanding that certain individuals with severe mental illnesses are chronically ill and will repeatedly decompensate into their illnesses under an "imminent dangerousness" standard, resulting in a "revolving door" of commitments, incarceration, and homelessness.

Keywords: mental health law, civil commitment

Suggested Citation

Erickson, Steven K. and Vitacco, Michael J. and Van Rybroek, Gregory, Beyond Overt Violence: Wisconsin's Progressive Civil Commitment Statute as a Marker of a New Era in Mental Health Law (December 16, 2005). Marquette Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 359, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1268944

Steven K. Erickson (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Michael J. Vitacco

Mendota Mental Health Institute ( email )

301 Troy Drive
Madison, WI 53704
United States

Gregory Van Rybroek

Mendota Mental Health Institute ( email )

301 Troy Drive
Madison, WI 53704
United States

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