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News & Editorials


By Jim Rarey
January 23, 2001


The Congress has quietly authorized establishment of not more than one hundred (demonstration) mental health courts in the United States. An amount of $40,000,000 (over four years) was authorized to set up the courts under the supervision of the US Justice Department.

The original bill (S1865) was sponsored by Sen. Mike Dewine of Ohio and co-sponsored by Sen. Domenici of New Mexico, both Republicans. However, it was rewritten by Sen. Orin Hatch (R. Utah) in his Senate Judiciary Committee and reported to the floor without a written committee report.

The bill passed the Senate on Sept 26, 2000 under "unanimous consent" (without objection). The House adopted it on Oct. 24th by voice vote under a suspension of the rules. President Clinton signed it into law on Nov. 13th.

Thus, there is no record of how anyone voted on the measure or how many were present at the votes.

That's the history. Now for the law's provisions.

The law would apply to all "preliminarily qualified offenders" defined as persons having,

"previously or currently been diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional as having a mental illness, mental retardation, or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorder, or manifest obvious signs of mental illness, mental retardation or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders during arrest or confinement or before any court.."

The term "mental illness" means a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that meets diagnostic criteria within the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.

It provides for continuing judicial supervision, including periodic review of "preliminarily qualified offenders" who are charged (not convicted, but charged) with misdemeanors or nonviolent offenses. The list of offenses that would subject a person to the jurisdiction of these "mental health courts" is to be developed by the Attorney General in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and any other officials deemed appropriate.

The law also provides for "centralized case management" involving,

"consolidation of all of a mentally ill or mentally retarded defendant's cases, including violations of probation, and the coordination of all mental treatment plans and social services, including life skills training, such as housing placement, vocational training, education, job placement, health care, and relapse prevention for each participant who requires such services.."

Would opposition to a "Gay Rights city ordinance" be enough to bring one under the jurisdiction of a mental health court? You bet. For years the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. About fifteen years ago they dropped that and added "homophobia" (disapproval of homosexuality) as a mental disorder. If this law were enforced as it is authorized to be, that would be evidence enough to make the person a "preliminarily qualified offender." Off to mental health court he would go.

Another (intended?) consequence of falling under the jurisdiction of a mental health court is that it would undoubtedly trigger the federal law prohibiting the ownership or possession of a firearm.

You say it can't happen in America. Well, it is.

Permission is granted to reproduce this article in its entirety. The author is a free lance writer based in Romulus, Michigan. He is a former newspaper editor and investigative reporter, a retired customs administrator and accountant, and a student of history and the U.S. Constitution. If you would like to receive Medium Rare articles directly, please contact us at Although not necessary, we would appreciate an indication of the city/state or country in which you are located to give us an idea as to where our message is being received.


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A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power. —ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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