Disability Rights California Statement Condemning the Proposed Ballot Measure That Would Begin Mass Institutionalization and Criminalization of Homeless People with Mental Disabilities

From Disability Rights California: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd- This is appalling. If the ballot measure succeeds, we will be seeing this in many states futures. It will be interesting to see if those who are against immigrant internment in California will come out against this…

Stating that “public nuisances are a significant problem in our state” former State Assemblymember Mike Gatto has started the process for placing on the 2020 statewide ballot a measure that would require a person who commits a common public nuisance violation “caused by a mental health issue” to be sentenced to the maximum allowable sentence which must “be served in a hospital or other mental health treatment facility.” At the end of the sentencing term the court can require continuing confinement in those facilities “if continuing treatment is appropriate.”

Aside from a whole of host of constitutional and civil rights violations that this proposal engenders, not to mention the cost of creating a vast network of institutions, it reveals that there are those who believe that the most critical concern with the homeless is their visibility and their “nuisance behavior on our streets”. This proposal packages an approach for sweeping the homeless from our sight in now what is becoming an all too popular refrain that institutionalization is the “humane” and “compassionate” way to address homelessness and care for people with mental disabilities. But actually, as the author bluntly reveals, the measure is intended to “help law abiding citizens enjoy the safe and clean use of our streets, and encourage respect for our laws.”

We have been down the road of hiding mental illness from the public view by using mass institutionalization in abominable facilities where people neither received meaningful care nor ultimately even emerged alive. In 1959, as many as 37,500 Californians were held involuntarily in state-run institutions – some for their entire lives – in conditions widely found to be despicable and inhumane. It was an expensive and failed system. California appropriately rejected the mass institutionalization of individuals in mental health institutions in the 1970s. The setback of deinstitutionalization was not that individuals moved out of locked wards; it was that the promised community-based services and housing never materialized. The current housing crisis has only magnified the problem and exacerbated this shortage.

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