Public Comment

Response to letter by Judi Iranyi

By Jack Bragen
Saturday April 13, 2013 - 08:23:00 AM

Dear Judi;

I oppose the implementation of Laura's Law because I believe this law would have unintended bad consequences for persons with mental illness. It could usher in an entirely new time of abuses and restrictions on us, and might reverse progress toward mandated humane treatment by mental health practitioners. This is progress that was fought for over a period of decades. 

I am very concerned over how the provisions of this law would play out in practice. And I believe it would create an atmosphere of fearfulness and suppression among our population. 

In a recent issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet, a video was shown of a mentally ill man being hogtied by Berkeley Police, who also put a hood over the young man's head. This resembles the deplorable treatment to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Prison. Do we really want police to have the authority to act as psychiatrists? I believe Laura's Law might bring more of this. 

Laura's Law was written with the intent of protecting the general public from persons with mental illness. It was not created for the good of the people being treated. 

I was able to get over my acute illness because I learned for myself that I need treatment. Forcing medication on people on an outpatient basis could take away this empowerment. The law assumes that no one with a mental illness is able to get off of medication. Although I wasn't able to successfully get off medication, there may be others who are misdiagnosed and who could stop their medication. 

However, the real issue is force. No one wants to be forced to do something, including when it is hypothetically good for them. Forcing medication on mentally ill people, employing physical force to do this, is a violation of basic human rights. And it doesn't feel good, either. 

The tax money that Laura's Law advocates would like to divert was originally intended to fund programs that enrich the lives of persons with mental illness. Some of these programs are supposed to be implemented by mental health consumers. Physically restraining someone and shooting their butt with Haldol does not qualify as enrichment.