Proposed Bill Would Authorize Court-Ordered Outpatient Treatment For Mentally Ill

TRENTON — State Senators Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen, Passiac) and Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) introduced bipartisan legislation on Thursday that would authorize courts in any county in New Jersey to order patients with mental illness to partake in outpatient treatment. Currently, only six counties have taken advantage of legislation enacted in 2009 that enabled an involuntary outpatient treatment program.

“For many who suffer from certain mental illnesses, the disease itself makes it impossible for them to recognize that they are ill,” said Cardinale (R-Bergen, Passiac). “Therefore, informed consent to treatment becomes an impossible and frustrating problem. Often these folks are periodically in and out of institutions and eventually too many commit acts of violence against themselves or others.

“If we truly want to prevent tragedies like Newtown, part of the solution demands that we make untreated mental illness less prevalent. And that we remove legal barriers to applying modern medicine to the problem,” Cardinale added.

The legislation provides that in any county in which the involuntary commitment to an outpatient treatment program has not been implemented, a court may, through a conditional release provision, assign a patient, who has been determined to need involuntary commitment to treatment, to an outpatient treatment provider.

“Untreated mental illness is a serious concern as patients who don’t receive the help they need are at risk of engaging in harmful and violent behavior,” Cardinale said. “This type of legislation helps address the root of much violence in our society.”

“Unfortunately, some anti gun ideologues prefer an agenda to disarm our law abiding residents leaving them vulnerable to armed criminals who could not care less about ignoring well-intentioned but naive gun control measures,” Cardinale concluded.

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