The Rights of the Mentally Disabled

  • Seymour L. Halleck
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


The recent change in the standards for involuntary commitment represents only one of the many changes designed to protect the rights of the mentally disabled. These days the patient is provided with many of the same procedural rights in the course of the commitment process that the accused offender receives in the course of a criminal trial. A person charged with a crime is granted certain protections during the procedures which determine his guilt or innocence. He is entitled to make maximum use of these protections to ensure that he will not be punished unless it can be proven that he is guilty. In the civil commitment process procedural rights are designed to ensure that people who do not meet the standards for commitment will not be involuntarily hospitalized. Some of the rights now granted patients have little influence on the practice of psychiatry. Psychiatrists as a rule do not oppose these rights, and usually favor them. Some of the new rights, however, generate consequences which should concern us. Conducting the civil commitment process in the same manner as a criminal proceeding can produce a variety of situations and outcomes which are definitely not good for patients.


Criminal Justice Mental Health System Federal Court Training School Mental Patient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    A. Stone, “Recent Mental Health Litigation: A Critical Perspective,” American Journal of Psychiatry 134, no. 3, (1977): 273–79.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. H. Kuh, “Balancing the Scale of Justice: How to Make Plea Bargaining Work,” The New Leader, January 1974.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    T. J. Scheff, Being Mentally Ill ( Chicago: Aldine, 1966 ).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Guidelines for Defense Counsel in Commitment Cases,“ Mental Disability Law Reporter 2,no. 4 (1978): 427–30.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    L. P. Galie, “An Essay on the Civil Commitment Lawyer: Or How I Learned to Hate the Adversary System,” Journal of Psychiatry and Law, Spring 1978, pp. 71–87.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Commission on the Mentally Disabled, American Bar Association “Suggested Statute on Civil Commitment,” Mental Disability Lazo Reporter 2, no. 1 (1977): 143.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    B. J. Ennis and R. D. Embry, The Rights of Mental Patients (New York: Avon Books, 1978), p. 73.Google Scholar
  8. Suggested Statute on Civil Commitment,pp. 101–05; F. W. Miller et al., The Mental Health Process (Mineola, N.Y.: Foundation Press, 1976), pp. 379–82.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    S. L. Halleck, Psychiatry and the Dilemmas of Crime ( New York: Harper, 1967 ).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Addington v. Texas, U.S. 77–5992 (1979).Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479, 488 (1960).Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    D. Chambers, “Alternatives to Civil Commitment of the Mentally Ill: Practical Guidelines and Constitutional Imperatives,” Michigan Law Review 70 (1972): 1107.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Wyatt v. Stickney, 334 F. Supp. 1341, 1343–44 ( M.D. Ala., 1971 ).Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Dixon v. Weinberger, 405 F. Supp. 974 (D.D.C. 1975 ).Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    R. J. Bonnie, “Commentary: Criminal Responsibility,” in Diagnosis and Debate, edited by R. J. Bonnie. ( New York: Insight Communications, 1977 ), p. 295.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    A. Stone, “The Right to Treatment and the Psychiatric Establishment,” Psychiatric Annals 4, no. 9 (1974): 43–50.Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    B. J. Ennis, “Legal Rights of the Voluntary Patient,” Journal of the National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals, Summer 1976.Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    M. Birnbaum, “The Right to Treatment,” American Bar Association Journal 45 (1960): 499–505.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Rouse v. Cameron, 373 F.2d 451 (D.C. Cir. 1966 ).Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    ’Connor v. Donaldson, 422 U.S. 563, 95 S. Ct. 2486, 45 L.Ed. 2d 396 (1975).Google Scholar
  21. 25.
    Harvard Law Review, “Mental Health Litigation: Implementing Institutional Reform,” Mental Disability Law Reporter 2, Nos. 2–3 (1977): 221–33.Google Scholar
  22. 26.
    S. Stickney, “Wyatt v. Stickney: The Right to Treatment,” in Diagnosis and Debate, edited by R. J. Bonnie. ( New York: Insight Communications, 1977 ), pp. 274–81.Google Scholar
  23. 28.
    Mackey v. Procunier, 477 F.2d 877 (9th Cir. 1973 )Google Scholar
  24. Knecht v. Gilman, 488 F. 2d 1136 (8th Cir. 1973).Google Scholar
  25. 29.
    L. H. Roth, “Judicial Action Report,” Psychiatric News 14, no. 9 (1979)Google Scholar
  26. R. Plotkin, “Limiting the Therapeutic Orgy: Mental Patients’ Right to Refuse Treatment,” Northwestern Law Review 72 (1977): 465–82.Google Scholar
  27. 31.
    Regulation of Special Techniques That Warrant Strict Scrutiny in Involuntary Treatment, Mental Disability Law Reporter 2, no. 1 (1977): 122–26.Google Scholar
  28. A. Brooks Mental Health Law: The Right to Refuse Treatment, Administration in Mental Health 4 no. 2 (1977): 90–95.Google Scholar
  29. 33.
    T. K. Zander, “Prolixin Decanoate: Big Brother by Injection,” Psychiatry and Law, Spring 1977, pp. 55–74.Google Scholar
  30. 35.
    L. H. Roth, A. Meisel, and C. W. Lidz, “Tests of Competency to Consent to Treatment,” American Journal of Psychiatry 134, no. 3 (1977): 279–84.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 38.
    Mental Health Treatment for Minors,Mental Disability Law Reporter 2 no. 4 (1978): 461.Google Scholar
  32. 39.
    Parham v. J. L., 412 F. Supp. 112 (M.D. Ga.), stay granted 96 S. Ct. 1503 (1976)Google Scholar
  33. Bartley v. Kremens, 402 F. Supp. 1039 (E.D. Pa. 1975)Google Scholar
  34. 40.
    Parham v. J. L., 412 F. Supp. 112 (M.D. Ga.), stay granted 96 S. Ct. 1503 (1976), probable jurisdiction noted$145 U.S.L.W. 3733 (May 31, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  35. 41.
    L. R. Roth, “Judicial Action Report,” Psychiatric Neu’s 14, no. 17 (1979)Google Scholar
  36. 42.
    G. Planaysky, V. Ritchie, and Z. Silverstein, “Intensive Residential Treatment for Adolescents in North Carolina and the Present Legal System: A Review and Proposed Changes,” North Carolina Journal of Mental Health 8, no. 9 (1978): 1–15.Google Scholar
  37. 45.
    Kaimowitz v. Michigan Department of Mental Health, Civil Action 73–19434-AW ( Wayne County, Mich., Cir. Ct. 1973 ).Google Scholar
  38. 46.
    R. Slovenko and E. Luby, “From Moral Treatment to Railroading out of the Mental Hospital,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 2, no. 4 (1977): 233–34.Google Scholar
  39. 47.
    U.S. Court upholds Danger Exam Standard,Psychiatric News 13, no. 13 (1978).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seymour L. Halleck
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations