Disability Rights Legislation

SB 350 – Civil Commitment (2011-2012)

Link to Bill:

This bill changes the laws concerning the civil commitment of and treatment provided to mentally ill people by broadening the definition of “mentally ill person subject to court order.” The expanded definition includes people who satisfy all of the following conditions:

-Unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment
-Have difficulty sticking to prescribed treatment
-Could become a danger to themselves or others without treatment

Primary Sponsors:
Secondary Sponsors:
Judiciary (S)
LSC Legislation Status:
Jurisdiction/Legislation Level:
Our take on this bill:

SB 350 is problematic in that it broadly expands the power to commit individuals to court-ordered mental health treatment beyond situations when an individual is a substantial risk to himself or others. Under this bill’s revised definition of “mentally ill person subject to court order,” demonstrable risk to oneself or others is not necessary, so long as “the likelihood” exists that it could happen without treatment. While protecting public safety is a top priority, depriving anyone of liberty based on “likelihood” raises serious 5th Amendment concerns.