[Hpn] Pennsylvania: Proposed bill expands criteria for involuntary commitment

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Wed, 24 Jul 2002 11:07:56 -0400

Concerning HB 2374: "An Act amending the act of July 9, 1976 (P.L.817, 
No.143), known as the Mental Health Procedures Act, further providing for 
statement of policy, for provision for treatment, for persons who may be 
subject to involuntary emergency examination and treatment and for 
court-ordered involuntary treatment."

As Introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives:


-------Forwarded article-------

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Centre Daily Times <http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/>
[Central Pennsylvania area]
Proposed bill expands criteria for involuntary commitment

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG -- A state lawmaker is proposing to expand the criteria for 
requiring mentally ill patients considered dangerous to be committed 
involuntarily for treatment, but some advocacy groups say the measure is too 

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen R. Maitland, would broaden the 
definition of someone dangerous enough to need an involuntary treatment to 
include anyone who would experience "serious physical or mental 
debilitation" within 30 days if psychotropic medication is not prescribed.

The primary intent of the bill is to ensure that psychiatric patients whose 
moods can be controlled by medication continue taking their medicines after 
they are released from involuntary commitment, said Maitland, R-Adams.

"We see a revolving door in the justice system of the kinds of people that 
get themselves in trouble and become a danger and get committed to jail or 
probation or mental health treatment," he said. "Then they're stabilized and 
released, but don't take their medication, and they go into a downward 

The measure's supporters include the Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, 
Va., a nonprofit national organization that lobbies to improve access to 
treatment for the severely mentally ill.

Pennsylvania would join 15 to 20 other states that have already expanded the 
criteria for involuntary treatment if Maitland's measure is passed, said 
Jonathan Stanley, the center's assistant director.

"We support this measure because our system right now mandates tragedy. 
We're talking about people going to jail because of what they did when 
they're sick. We're talking about people becoming homeless," he said.

But Pennsylvania advocates for the mentally ill said Maitland's bill would 
force too many patients to be hospitalized unnecessarily at the expense of 
other types of programs that would enable them to live more independently 
while receiving treatment.

The Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, a statewide organization of 1,750 
psychiatrists, believes that the existing law adequately ensures that mental 
patients who pose the greatest danger to themselves and others receive 
adequate treatment, executive director Gwen Lehman said.

---End of forwarded article---


Pennsylvania General Assembly:


Electronic Bill Room:



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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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