Civil commitment is defined as “a process by which a court determines whether or not to order an individual to receive treatment or care or be confined” (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2013, p.1). There are two legal principles that are part of a state’s interest in civil commitment. They are parens patrae and police power. The term ‘parens patrae’ is a philosophy that states that the government is in charge of his/her citizens when such citizens are not able to care for himself or herself (Testa & West, 2010). The term ‘police power’ is defined “as the inherent and plenary power of a sovereign to make all laws necessary and proper to preserve the public” (Lareau, 2013, p. 308).
Legal Aspects and Contours of Involuntary Hospitalization
There are substantive terms that are associated with civil commitment. They include a mental disorder, danger to self, danger to others, inability to make treatment decisions, need for treatment and least restrictive alternative (Lareau, 2013). The term ‘mental disorder’ refers to a condition that impacts an individual’s thinking, feeling or mood, and affect his/her ability to relate to others and unable to function in daily activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Examples of mental disorders include, but are not limited to, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Eating Disorders. The term ‘danger to self’ refers to “engaging in suicidal or severe self-injuries behaviors” (Lareau, 2013, p. 313). Another definition of danger to self as provided by the U.S. Legal Inc (2016) occurs in “a situation where a person is unable to cater to his nourishment, shelter or self-protection without supervision or assistance of another ...
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... offender (MDO) involves the criteria of six items. The six items as provided by the State of California Department of State Hospitals (2012) are:
1. “The prisoner has a severe mental disorder;
2. The prisoner used force or violence or caused serious bodily injury in one of the prisoner 's commitment crimes;
3. The severe mental disorder was one of the causes of or was an aggravating factor in the commission of the crime for which the prisoner was sentenced to prison;
4. The prisoner 's "severe mental disorder is not in remission" or "cannot be kept in remission without treatment"
5. The prisoner had been in treatment for the severe mental disorder for ninety (90) days or more within the year prior to the prisoner 's parole or release; and
6. As a result of the severe mental disorder, the prisoner represents a "substantial danger of physical harm to others” (p. 1)
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