Take Action – Missouri Legislature – Involuntary Commitment

Periodically we let you know the progress of various proposed legislation making its way through the Missouri General Assembly and suggest ways for you to contribute your viewpoint to your state Representative and state Senator.

You can find your Representative and Senator, and their contact information, by entering your 9-digit zip code here.

This time, we’d like to discuss Senate Bill SB221, “Authorizes legal counsel for the Department of Mental Health to have standing in certain hearings involving a person unable to stand trial due to lack of mental fitness”, sponsored by Senator Jeanie Riddle (R, District 10).

“This act provides that after a person accused of committing a crime has been committed to the Department of Mental Health due to lack of mental fitness to stand trial, the legal counsel for the Department shall have standing to participate in hearings regarding involuntary medications for the accused.”

First off, we’d like to say that Involuntary Commitment (also called civil commitment) is a crack in the door of constitutional freedoms, and should be abolished.

This bill would modify Section 552.020, RSMo (Missouri Revised Statutes) which establishes this type of involuntary commitment in the state. The main topic of this statute states, “No person who as a result of mental disease or defect lacks capacity to understand the proceedings against him or her or to assist in his or her own defense shall be tried, convicted or sentenced for the commission of an offense so long as the incapacity endures.” Instead, the person is incarcerated against their will in a psychiatric facility. In effect, they are put in jail without a trial. This is often called NGRI, “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.”

Here (in italics) is the main requested change in the law: “If the court determines that the accused lacks mental fitness to proceed, the criminal proceedings shall be suspended and the court shall commit him or her to the director of the department of mental health. After the person has been committed, legal counsel for the department of mental health shall have standing to file motions and participate in hearings on the issue of involuntary medications.

In other words, once the person becomes an involuntary ward of the state in a psychiatric facility, then the Department of Mental Health can force the person to be placed on psychiatric drugs by petitioning the court.

When any psychiatric facility has full legal power to cause your involuntary physical detention by force (kidnapping), drug you senseless, subject you to physical pain and mental stress (torture), leave you permanently mentally damaged (cruel and unusual punishment), with or without proving to your peers that you are a danger to yourself or have committed a crime (due process of law, trial by jury) then, by definition, a totalitarian state exists.

Because of their ubiquity and far–reaching powers, involuntary commitment laws lay a truly concrete foundation for totalitarianism. And they are not, it must be stressed, a threat of what might be, but a present danger — representing America’s gaping breach in the otherwise admirable wall of individual Constitutional rights.

Involuntary commitment laws hike federal, state, county, city and private health care costs under the strange circumstance of a patient–recipient who cannot say no.

And we have not even mentioned yet that the involuntary psychiatric drugs that this proposed change in the law sanctions are harmful and addictive, and are known to cause violence and suicide.

The person who pleads NGRI to a crime needs effective justice and rehabilitation, not psychiatric drugs.

Contact your Missouri state Representative and Senator, and let them know what you think about this.

For more information click here.

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