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San Diego mayor pushing bill that could detain mentally ill people, send them to treatment

The bill is the latest attempt to update California's 56-year-old law governing mental health conservatorships.

SAN DIEGO — Mayors from California's biggest cities said a stricter approach is needed to help get treatment to people living on the streets who are suffering from an addiction, but those opposed say it's unconstitutional.

People in California could soon be detained against their will because of a mental illness.

Mayors from the state’s largest cities, including San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, were in Sacramento today supporting a bill that could allow that to happen.

“Our current rules do not make absolutely any sense. When I am often asked, 'Mayor, why aren’t you doing something about this person?' Who is screaming at the top of their lungs on this street corner, and I say, well, they’re not a threat to themselves or others, that rings hollow,” said Mayor Gloria. 

Current state law allows courts to order people into treatment, but only if they are dangerous to themselves or others.

This new bill plans to expand that and includes people who suffer from mental illness or addiction and refuse to get help.

“What happens to those folks is what happens all across the state, which are folks living unsheltered and in extremely dangerous conditions where too often the result is their death,” said Gloria.

According to Gloria, of the thousands of emergency calls that San Diego County first responders respond to daily, 400 are related to behavioral issues. 

“I know our current rules set the bar so high that we can’t help that individual,” said Gloria.

While leaders believe this could save unsheltered lives and even reduce homelessness.

Advocacy groups who focus on disability rights oppose the law. 

They say it could lead to locking more people against their will and depriving them of fundamental rights, including privacy and liberty. 

Advocates also add that leaders should focus on improving mental health services. So far, the bill has only been introduced. 

WATCH RELATED: San Diego on forefront of launching first-in-the-nation Care Court program (Dec. 2022).


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