Involuntary Commitment and Forced Psychiatric Drugging in the Trial Courts: Rights Violations as a Matter of Course
JAMES B. GOTTSTEIN
Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRightsÃ‚Â®); International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP); National Association of Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA); Law Offices of James B. Gottstein
A commonly-held belief is that locking up and forcibly drugging people diagnosed with mental illness is in their best interests as well as society’s as a whole. The truth is far different.
Rather than protecting the public from harm, public safety is decreased. Rather than helping psychiatric respondents, many are greatly harmed. The evidence on this is clear.
Constitutional, statutory, and judge-made law, if followed, would protect psychiatric respondents from being erroneously deprived of their freedom and right to decline psychiatric drugs. However, lawyers representing psychiatric respondents, and judges hearing these cases uncritically reflect society’s beliefs and do not engage in legitimate legal processes when conducting involuntarily commitment and forced drugging proceedings.
By abandoning their core principle of zealous advocacy, lawyers representing psychiatric respondents interpose little, if any, defense and are not discovering and presenting to judges the evidence of the harm to their clients. By abandoning their core principle of being faithful to the law, judges have become instruments of oppression, rather than protectors of the rights of the downtrodden.
This article weaves legal analysis with the scientific evidence, as well as describes how the recipients of these unwanted interventions experience them. While this Article focuses on Alaska, similar processes are found in other United States’ jurisdictions, with only the details differing.