Do not remove patient protections from expanded conservatorship law
I am calling to oppose your conservatorship bill, SB 40, which removes patient protections and expands the number of patients targeted for conservatorship under last year’s SB 1045. Expanded conservatorship gives undue power to the police, while doing nothing to provide funding for much-needed voluntary services.
The homelessness crisis in San Francisco is severe, and I expect real solutions from my legislators. I urge you to work directly with the organizations opposing this bill: the Coalition on Homelessness, Senior and Disability Action, and the ACLU- Disability Rights Committee, to craft a humane, workable policy.
Last year, Senator Wiener authored SB 1045, which allowed San Francisco, along with LA and San Diego, to implement an expansion of its conservatorship program. SB 1045 was opposed by civil liberties and disability advocates, and in response to their concerns about the law’s scope, protective clauses were added. Senator Wiener's new bill, SB 40, aims to remove those patient protections and expand the scope of the law.
Last year’s legislation expanding conservatorship (SB 1045) was opposed by a number of civil rights groups and organizations that advocate for homeless people, people with mental illness and people with substance use disorders. Those organizations lobbied the state legislature to remove some of the more egregious elements of the bill and add protections for people who may be conserved under the law.
This year, Senator Wiener introduced SB 40, which would expand the number of patients targeted for conservatorship under SB 1045 by removing the hard-won patient protections that advocates had insisted on last year. Specifically, SB 40 would remove the requirement that patients are offered voluntary assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) under Laura’s Law before they are forced into conservatorship. SB 40 also expands the amount of time within which police citations could be issued.
Fundamentally, care should not begin with handcuffs. SB 1045, along with its expansion under SB 40, gives the police the authority to force individuals into conservatorship, when these decisions should be made by mental healthcare professionals.
Critics gather in the Mission to question upcoming vote on conservatorship, Mission Local, Feb 25, 2019
Does Conservatorship Help or Harm California’s Homeless Population? Nonprofit Quarterly, Feb 18, 2019