Thanks to activist Laura Van Tosh, MindFreedom International learned of regressive legislation that was recently passed by the Washington State Legislature (USA) and awaits consideration by Governor Jay Inslee.
=======CALL TO ACTION============
SB 5720 “Involuntary Treatment Act” is on its way to Governor Inslee for consideration. It is proposed to go into effect January 1, 2021. Action is needed to express our views as peers, persons in recovery, and people with disabilities. All these groups and perhaps even more vulnerable people are the subject of this law. As the process unfolded during this 60-day legislative session, two peers testified on February 21, 2020 and declared this bill a potential violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., a ruling that requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities and to ensure that persons with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. (See video link at end of this post.) From an OLMSTEAD perspective and the theme of “NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US,” all the stakeholders impacted by this proposed law are encouraged to VOICE your opinion by sending Gov. Inslee a short message to his inbox with your views. YOUR MESSAGES ARE NEEDED TODAY!
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST PIECES IN THE BILL:
* Increases the initial detention period under the Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) from 72 hours to 120 hours (5 days), excluding weekends and holidays wait could be 7 days, beginning January 1, 2021. You will be held until you have a hearing.
* Broadens “gravely disabled” definition to include severe deterioration “from safe behavior” and “violent act.” These terms in fact increase stigma and perpetuate negative stereotypes.
* Allows involuntary medication outside of a hospital, in a lobby of community mental health center for example.
* A court order for a peace officer to detain a person for involuntary treatment must be entered into the Washington Crime Information Center database.
* Certain provisions for adults will apply to minors.
* Major provisions implemented on a fast track.
ADDITIONAL POINTS TO CONSIDER:
1) There has not been systemic analyses (research) across states that have changed initial commitments period to 5 or more days.
2) Due diligence includes hearing directly from all stakeholders who would be impacted including peers with mental health and substance use needs or former utilizers who work in the behavioral healthcare system directly with peers and understand the issues.
3) The bill may disproportionately impact people of color and our neighbors who are homeless.
4) The transformation of our system should not include processes that TAKE AWAY recovery and mental health. Peers in recovery from behavioral health conditions have worked hard enough to get and stay well.
5) People with behavioral health care need jobs, decent affordable housing and opportunity – not increased forced interventions or a daily fear of it.
NOTE: Disability Rights of Washington (DRW) has issued an alert. If you did not receive it and want more background on SB 5720 Email David Lord at firstname.lastname@example.org The alert in this post was prepared for stakeholders by Peer Legislative Advocates – Washington State (Peer Leg). It was developed entirely by peers, many who have first-hand experiences with Involuntary Treatment, Commitment, and Forced Medication. Peer Leg was founded almost a year ago to educate and empower peers to become engaged in legislative advocacy (policy) at the city, county and state levels. Peers are encouraged to form their own views and positions, and advocate with other stakeholders as they wish. Peer Leg is a nonpartisan all-volunteer forum. For more information, please like our page on Facebook!
https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2020021277 – – Go to 1:31:22 to hear brief Testimony from Mike Wimberley and Laura Van Tosh (2/21/20)
Letter submitted by MindFreedom International on 3/20/2020
Dear Governor Inslee:
In this time of unprecedented crisis confronting the United Sates and the world at large, I realize that you are facing many pressures that are demanding quick decisions.
As Executive Director of MindFreedom International (MFI), I would appreciate your consideration of our objections to SB 5720 “Involuntary Treatment Act.”
International is a nonprofit organization that unites sponsor and affiliate
grassroots groups with thousands of individual members to win human rights and
alternatives for people labeled with psychiatric disabilities. Our organization has actively participated
in the United Nations development of the
Convention on Disability Rights that was adopted on December 13, 2006.
We encourage you to veto a Bill which will not only fail to be helpful to people who are struggling but will severely limit their capacity to move through their difficulties and recover. A plethora of research has shown that forced treatment is not effective. Of course, one form of intervention and treatment can not address the multiplicity of issues that an individual experiencing an extreme emotional state must work through. But we do know from research by mental health professionals and the personal narratives of those who have transformed their lives, the immense importance of maintaining personal agency and choice. The potential life-long harm of forced treatment in both inpatient and outpatient settings is well known and documented.
We urge you to consider alternatives to ‘psychiatric’ in-patient solutions for people experiencing distress in favor of more humane, effective, community-based choices.
Please consider the ramifications of passing SB 5720 and consider the input of those with expertise by virtue of their lived experience in the crafting of Bills that will create and sustain progress for those in need.
Ron Bassman, PhD
Mind Freedom International