January 04, 2006

Mayor Wants To Force Mental Health Treatment

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

ALBUQUERQUE, NM--People with mental illness in Albuquerque could be forced to take their medications under a proposal announced by mayor Martin Chavez.

"We are saying, 'Against your will, we will force you into treatment,'" Chavez said this week.

Chavez' proposal is his response to what he claims is a trend of violent crimes committed by patients with mental illness. He told the Albuquerque Journal that 11 of the 55 homicides in the city this year were related to mental illness.

Five of those murders were attributed to John Hyde, who reportedly had stopped taking his medication for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia when he allegedly shot to death five people on August 18. Two of those he allegedly killed were police officers who were sent to pick him up for an evaluation.

Hyde has been ruled incompetent to stand trial and is being held and treated at the Behavioral Health institute in Las Vegas until he can become competent.

While there is question over whether he has the authority to enact a law forcing mental health treatment on innocent citizens, Chavez said he is willing to take that risk. He added that he would do what it takes, including spending time and money on litigation, to protect the public from people who have serious mental illness.

The city estimates that it would cost more than $1 million to enforce the proposal.

"Proposed Law Would Force Mentally Ill Patients To Be Treated" (The New Mexico Channel)
"Albuquerque is trying to maintain a good track record in dealing with mental illness" (Albuquerque Tribune)
"Our mental health crisis isn't fodder for entertainment" (Albuquerque Tribune)

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Posted on January 04, 2006