Civil Commitment Evaluations
Today I will describe the methods for civil commitment evaluations, including what civil commitment is, who is involved, and when it is and is not appropriate. Since the laws pertaining to civil commitment vary from State to State, I will be referencing Minnesota laws in regards to the subject. The law and legal definition of civil commitment refers to, “the jailing of a person for debt or nonpayment of alimony or the confinement of an insane person, alcoholic, or drug addict for treatment or protection or the commitment of a person under civil arrest” ("Civil Commitment Law & Legal Definition," 2001- 2014). In the USA laws pertaining to civil commitments vary dependent upon what the individual statutes and laws pertaining to civil commitment are in the State involved (Mrad, D., Watson, C. 2011). For example, in Minnesota, “Mental Health has the obligation of committing persons to treatment centers with the allegation of Mental Illness, Developmentally Disabled, Chemical Dependency, Psychopathic Personality and referrals from Criminal Court” ("Mental Health Civil Commitments," n.d., pg. 467). However, it should be noted that in Minnesota commitment laws are for persons ages 18 or older, but, provided that all the due process requirements have been meet, some counties allow for these laws to be applied to 16 and 17 year olds (Minnesota National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2006). In Minnesota, there are six types of civil commitment proceedings: Mentally Ill persons (MI) - Persons that are mentally ill and as a result, pose a danger to themselves or others; Mentally Retarded persons (MR) - Persons that are mentally retarded (developmentally disabled) and as a result, pose a danger to themselves or others; Chemically Dependent persons (CD) - Persons that are chemically dependent, unable to manage personal affairs, and as a result, pose a danger to themselves or others; Persons Mentally Ill and Dangerous to the Public (MI&D) - Persons that are mentally ill and as a result, have caused or intended to cause serious physical harm to another and are likely to take such action in the future; Sexual Psychopathic Personalities (SPP) - Persons who have an utter lack of power to control their sexual impulses as the result of a mental disorder and therefore pose a danger to the public; Sexually Dangerous Persons (SDP) - Persons who have a mental disorder who have engaged in and are likely to continue to engage in harmful sexual conduct. ("Mental Health Civil Commitments," n.d., pg. 467)
The six major steps in the Minnesota commitment process are as follows: 1. Initiating the process and the prepetition process (there are two ways, one is for emergencies) 2. Beginning the petition process
3. Conducting the examination
4. Holding the preliminary hearing
5. Holding the commitment hearing (trial)
6. Determining the result
(Minnesota National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2006, Pg. 7). Initiating he process involves one of two steps, obtaining an emergency hold or contacting the appropriate agency to obtain a prepetition screening. An emergency hold can be initiated by a physician or doctoral level psychologist, a peace or health officer, or the court. If an emergency hold is not warranted, you can contact the human services department in the county that the individual resides, and they will assign a pre-petition screening team. This team will assess if the individual in question meets all the requirements for Civil Commitment (Minnesota National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2006, Pg. 9). This evaluation or screening consists of, interviewing the individual, identify and investigate any alleged behaviors that would justify commitment, look for and explore alternate solutions other than commitment, as well as, provide an explanation as to why said alternatives may or may not be...
References: Civil Commitment Law & Legal Definition. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/civil-commitment/
Drogin, E. Y., Dattilio, F. M., Sandoff, R. L., & Gutheil, T. G. (2011). Handbook of forensic assessment: Psychological and psychiatric perspectives. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons
Mental Health Civil Commitments. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mncourts.gov/district/4/?page=467
Minnesota National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). http://www.namihelps.org. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://www.namihelps.org/assets/PDFs/civilcommitmentSinglePg102108.pdf
Mrad, D., Watson, C. (2011). Civil commitment. In E. Drogin, F. Dattilio, R. Sadoff, T. Gutheil, Handbook of forensic assessment: Psychological and psychiatric perspectives (pp. 479–501). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Webster, C. (n.d.). Forensic Psychiatry - Risk Assessment Instruments. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://www.forensicpsychiatry.ca/risk/instruments.htm#pclr
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