NJ law allows mentally ill to be forced into outpatient care

New Jersey has approved a bill allowing the mentally ill to be ordered into outpatient treatment against their will, in a measure which will take effect a year from today's signing by Gov. John Corzine (D).

The bill will give families greater say in determining whether seriously mentally ill loved ones need such treatment. It allows families to obtain a court order to force a loved one to attend an outpatient treatment program. The mentally ill person would be sent to a screening center, where mental health professionals would evaluate them to determine whether they needed inpatient care or could be safely cared for on an outpatient basis.

Under prior New Jersey law, the mentally ill could only be treated involuntarily at inpatient hospitals or clinics if they were found to be a danger to themselves, others or to property.

State Senate President Richard Codey, who pushed for the bill's approval, says the new system should help to reduce inpatient stays.

To learn more about this measure:
- read this UPI piece
- read this item from The Star-Ledger