Oh, those inconvenient people – the mentally ill. They fill our jails, they scare their neighbors, they drive their families crazy and sometimes bankrupt, and once in awhile they kill somebody, or become involved in a disturbance in which the police kill them.
The upcoming legislative session will probably revisit the painful issue of how to deal with mentally ill people who pose a real or potential threat.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry recently spoke in support of a bill that almost made it though the session this year.
As last amended during the 2015 regular session, Senate Bill 53, by Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, was intended to give the legal system a broader range of choices for dealing with mentally ill people who come to the system’s attention. Berry said it’s expected again in 2016.
The bill is similar to “Kendra’s Law,” first enacted in New York. That law resulted from an incident in which a schizophrenic man pushed a woman in front of an oncoming subway train. It allows a judge to require a mentally ill person who meets certain criteria to undergo treatment, including medication, for up to a year.
The title of the bill is “Assisted Outpatient Treatment.” What does that mean?