A controversial policy known as “involuntary commitment” for people suffering from severe untreated mental health and addiction issues could be considered in Seattle next year.
City Councilor Sarah Nelson told KUOW that involuntary commitments will be discussed as centrists take over the city council next year after most races are decided in the November election. He said this is one possible policy idea.
Nelson added that any city policy must consider current state law regarding involuntary commitment, also known as “involuntary treatment.” very strictly regulatedd. Currently, people are detained only in rare cases, such as when their mental health or substance disorder poses a risk of serious harm.
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The idea of expanding the use of involuntary commitments is hotly debated in Seattle and other liberal cities in the United States. media coverage Horrible conditions within some state institutions in the early 1970s. Later, legal challenges expanded the right of people not to be institutionalized against their will.
Nelson said some progressive homeless advocates and medical professionals in Seattle are starting to embrace the idea of involuntary commitment.
“You’d be surprised how many people who wouldn’t have thought to support involuntary commitment say they have to do it because they’re hurting themselves or others,” Nelson said. Ta.
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Nelson, who is himself a recovering alcoholic, said Seattle’s addiction crisis is so severe, killing hundreds of people each year, that the city has made controversial decisions that could help some people. He said ideas need to be openly discussed and debated.
“People are in different places on the road to recovery, so no approach can be ruled out,” she said.
Tyler Hemstreet with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services told KUOW that one of the biggest obstacles to expanding the use of involuntary commitments under current state regulations will be finding space. Hemstreet said there are currently too few beds available for people who need them.
If Nelson and other members of the new council want to expand involuntary treatment, they can expect criticism from civil rights activists and groups, including the ACLU.
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“We have a disturbing history of involuntary commitments that disproportionately result in abuses against Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. Health outcomes for people with substance use disorders will not improve,” Jazmine Clark of the ACLU of Washington told KUOW in a written statement.