Beyond Overt Violence: Wisconsin's Progressive Civil Commitment Statute as a Marker of a New Era in Mental Health Law
Posted: 18 Sep 2008
Date Written: December 16, 2005
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
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