Urgent Alert

Morgan Brown (morganbrown@hotmail.com)
Wed, 04 Feb 1998 05:05:26 PST


******* Urgent Alert *******

Re: S. 103-the Forced Drugging Bill;Vermont Legislature

The time is NOW for members of the House Judiciary Committee to hear 
from you!

Tuesday, February 3, 1998

Hello Peers, friends & allies,

Over the last two weeks, the House Judiciary Committee has taken a 
wealth of testimony, including holding a public hearing last Wednesday 
(1/28/98), and have asked tough questions of several people who have 
testified before them regarding this bill which would give the State the 
power, it has not had before, to forcibly drug people on a 
“non-emergency” basis outside of the Vermont State Hospital (V.S.H.).

S. 103, as currently being proposed and discussed, would further erode 
the few rights and limited due process that people who are 
psychiatrically labeled or disabled now have access to.

While Durable Power Of Attorney documents (D.P.O.A.’s) are being talked 
about in the context of being included in some fashion in this 
bill, so far, all the language I’ve seen in an  unofficial Department of 
Developmental and Mental Health Services (D.D.M.H.S.) draft (dated 
1/27/98) along with the discussion and testimony which I’ve heard makes 
it clear that it would erode the rights we now enjoy under the D.P.O.A. 
statutes. Current Vermont statutes do NOT make a separate distinction 
between D.P.O.A.’s for mental health care and other health care 
concerns. The proposals being put forth by various parties, at the 
present time, would negate a right we now hold and should retain. 
D.P.O.A.’s should be controlling, it  should NOT matter what our 
specific medical diagnosis has been determined to be.

S. 103, as currently being considered by the committee (the “Proposed 
Compromise by DDMHS - 1/15/98,” which is a different version than the 
unofficial one mentioned above regarding D.P.O.A.’s), would:

*  Allow for forced drugging in the community;

*  End the limited due process civil proceeding the State must currently 
follow in order to force drug a person on a non-emergency basis;

*  and, Would replace the “substituted judgment” standard with a “best 
interests” standard. Substituted Judgment is a decision based on what is 
believed a person would have decided about accepting psychiatric drugs 
or not when they were competent to make that decision themselves. Under 
the current standard, if a person would not want to be drugged while 
competent then the State is prohibited to do so in non-emergency 
situations.  The Best Interests standard would replace that with the 
State determining what is in your best interests regardless of what you 
may have desired while competent.

The bill would place this new expedited, due process-less,  proceeding 
in the over-burdened courts which usually defer to the opinions of the 
mental health professionals. There would also not be the same level of 
legal representation afforded as is the case now, certainly no 
provisions are being made for it.

S. 103 would deny us the protections and rights under the law in Vermont 
that we now have and that the Vermont courts have upheld when the 
Department of Mental Health sought to relieve themselves of the “J.L.” 
Decree, as it is known as, which they signed after a class action law 
suit was brought against them.

The State of Vermont does not need this legislation. 
It is a bad bill, it cannot  be improved.

Please call one or more members of the House Judiciary Committee members 
at the State House as soon as possible and/or e-mail the committee 
today. 

If you call the State House, please leave a message containing the 
following: the name of the legislator you want to reach; your name; a 
phone number you can be reached at; and what you are calling about (S. 
103 - the forced drugging bill).
The phone numbers are: toll free at 1-800-322-5616 or at 
(802) 828-2228

 If you e-mail, direct it to : 
Representative Thomas Costello
and committee members
House Judiciary Committee
Vermont State House 
Montpelier Vt
c/o: sgtarms@leg.state.vt.us

The names of the committee members are:
Thomas Costello, Chair, Brattleboro
Thomas Little, Vice Chair, Shelburne
William Lippert Jr., Hinesburg
Wayne Kenyon, Bradford Center
John Edwards, Swanton
Judith Livingston, Manchester
Bill Mackinnon, Sharon
Cathy Voyer, Morrisville
Diane Carmolli, Rutland
Howard Sinnott, Bennington
Edward Soboleski, Bellow Falls

Thank you for your concern. 

Sincerely,

Morgan W. Brown 
c/o P O Box 264 
Montpelier VT 05601

E-mail: morganbrown@hotmail.com   

Home Page: http://members.tripod.com/~Norsehorse/ 



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