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House Bill 3076, Vampires and Cop Killers March 17, 2010

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Hallucinations, Involuntary Committment, mental illness.
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Yet another case of an un-medicated mentally ill homeless person in Seattle made recent national news. A  little different than normal,  this individual in question believed that he was a vampire, entering a homeless shelter looking for “food” in the form of people he could eat. When the shelter refused to serve him his “food” and shuffled him outside, he strapped a metal device to his arm with electrical tape and proclaimed it was a bomb, shutting down a large section of downtown Seattle while his (false) claims were investigated.

What do a vampire and a cop killer have in common?  Each of these individuals exhibited behavior that should have gotten them involuntarily committed to a mental hospital prior to their acts of violence. But due to the way our commitment laws here in Washington State are constructed, both the cop killer and the vampire were able to put up a good “front” of sanity as they were being interviewed by the County Mental Health Professional for possible involuntary commitment prior to their acts of violence. With the stroke of a pen, Governor Chris Gregoire can change all of this, making Washington State a safer place to work and play.

Passed by the State Senate on March 9, 2010 and the House on March 10, 2010, House Bill 3076, sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting her signature, is nothing short of an overhaul of the State’s involuntary commitment laws.

The way the law stands now, a judge cannot take into consideration any evidence from witnesses regarding the behavior of a person being evaluated by a County Mental Health Professional for possible involuntary commitment.  If an adult son or daughter living with their parents exhibits severe psychotic behavior in front of the parents but manages to keep it under wraps before the County Mental Health Professional, there is no way for the parents to act as witnesses to their son’s psychotic behavior.  The County Mental Health Professional’s report to the judge making the decision regarding whether or not to involuntarily commit the person with the mental illness cannot contain any information except that which the Professional obtained directly from the person with the mental illness. No outside witnesses are allowed to give evidence or testimony.  This means that if the person with the mental illness is sufficiently lucid enough, he can avoid commitment by simply holding it together long enough to get through the exam without blowing his cover. The exam over, the person reverts to his psychotic behavior once again.  This scenario played out in the case of both the cop killer and the vampire. But after Governor Gregoire signs the new bill, this scene is much less likely to play out- at least in Washington State.

The new law gives witnesses, including family members, neighbors, landlords, or anyone else with significant contact and involvement with the person, the ability to give testimony to the Mental Health Professional as credible witnesses. The Mental Health Professional must rely upon information from this testimony from these credible witnesses in reaching a decision regarding whether to detain the individual.

The end product of this new legislation will be that people with severe mental illness who have been able to bamboozle Mental Health Professionals will be caught up short by people they have significant contact with. No more lying to keep out of the mental hospital.  No more fooling the professionals with 2 hours of acting “normal” followed by 2 months of Hell when they get back home.  Although this won’t catch all of the cop killers and vampires out there, it will go a long ways towards finding them.

(Note: House Bill 3076 was signed into legislation by Governor Gregoire on April 1, 2010).



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