There was a post earlier about SB 502 (https://www.davisvanguard.org/2021/07/california-capitol-watch-assisted-outpatient-treatment-bill-would-loosen-criteria-for-involuntary-mental-health-treatment/ ) which proposed an amendment to the LPS Act to expand the criteria for AOT to include eligible conservatees who are the subject of a pending petition for termination of a conservatorship under the Act to receive court-ordered AOT treatment.
Simply stated: some LPS conservatees who are in the process of terminating their LPS Conservatorship, may be ordered to additional AOT to “ensure” continuity of care. However, without further expansion to AOT provisions, this has a “large” chance of “falling flat”.
First lets look at AOT’s current provisions….
If an AOT patient refuses to comply with the treatment program the court can apply graduated remedies:
(1) Order the patient to meet with his or her treatment team. Welf & I C §5346(d)(6).
(2) If that fails and along with the opinion of the treatment provider the patient may need involuntary hospitalization, the provider may request that the patient be detained in a hospital for up to 72 hours to determine if the person needs treatment. However, failure to comply with a treatment program alone cannot be the basis for civil commitment or a finding of contempt. Welf & I C §5346(f); https://www.sfdph.org/dph/files/CBHSdocs/AOT/AOT-FactSheet-82615.pdf; [citation]
The biggest obstacle is that for AOT participants to be detained under a 5150 for non-compliance, there also needs to be a finding of current risk of danger to self/others/or current grave disability. This brings most folks back to the biggest issue, getting involuntary treatment and medication. The law provides that involuntary medication cannot be part of an AOT treatment plan absent a separate Riese hearing and order by the court under Welf & I C §§5325–5337; 5348(c).
AOT only authorizes “coercive” treatment plans with no real solid legal remedies should an AOT participant elope or refuse to come into the clinic and “goes into hiding”. Now to address the “hiding” patient.
Under LPS Conservatorship law, if a conservatee leaves an IMD without the approval of the conservator or treatment team, the conservator by law can request that law enforcement take the conservatee into custody and return the conservatee to the facility. Welf & I C §5358.5.
However, as everyone knows with our limited funding all over all the counties, the public guardian may ask law enforcement to find and return a conservatee, but if they are unable to find an LPS conservatee quickly they will stop the efforts and terminate the conservatorship.
The same applies to AOT but even more so. Since most AOT participants are not in lock down facilities, they can elope very quickly and disappear among the homeless, a shelter, or a friend’s house rendering the AOT/5150 order useless. Most law enforcement officers will not take the time to call shelters, relatives, or search records to find the person as we are going through limited funding and the great resignation right now.
This is a nice “bill” in theory but there are lots of “loopholes” that would make passing this law “nice” but not very effective.
Juvenile Dependency and