Robert Erickson: State law and those ‘housed’ with mental illness |

Robert Erickson: State law and those ‘housed’ with mental illness

Terry McAteer’s recent piece regarding the rise in the proportion of mentally ill “housed” in the county jail raises important issues but seems to overlook a key aspect of causality.

This is that the current state laws, not just budgetary concerns, limit the ability of the state to address this issue. Specifically, the Lanterman, Petris, Short (LPS) Act, passed in the 1960s repealed the commitment process under which the state previously had authority to hold mentally ill people in state hospitals long term.

There are very good reasons for this change even though one of its unintended consequences is the phenomenon Mr. McAteer’s piece discusses.

It is unfortunate that this change in the civil rights of mentally ill persons does result in an increase in criminal incarceration of mentally ill persons. However, the humanitarian gains for mentally ill persons who do not commit crimes needs to be addressed as well.

Robert Erickson

Grass Valley

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