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David Baxter

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Kendra's lies
by Nancy Koenigsberg
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Other states' successes were grossly exaggerated in an attempt to squelch honest, productive debate

I take issue with Mary Zdanowicz's commentary ("For the Law," Sept. 7, Insight & Opinion).

Zdanowicz, who is executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) of Arlington, Va., misrepresents the provisions of the proposed New Mexico Kendra's Law.

The proposed law is not, as Zdanowicz claims, narrowly drafted to apply only to the "most severely mentally ill citizens" and to the "paranoid and delusional."

In truth, the law would allow for the forced outpatient commitment of many individuals who pose no danger to anyone, and who are competent and have every right to make their own treatment choices.

Zdanowicz contends that 42 states have enacted this "proven treatment mechanism." This is simply untrue.

Although the laws of 42 states provide for some form of outpatient commitment, only a handful of states (such as New York), have broad and aggressive laws like the Kendra's Law that TAC has been lobbying for in New Mexico.

Ironically, TAC's home state of Virginia has not enacted a Kendra's Law. In Virginia, as in most other states, outpatient commitment is used only as a less-restrictive alternative for individuals who meet the standard for inpatient commitment, but who can be safely served in the community instead.

By contrast, the Kendra's Law as proposed in New Mexico, would allow for the forced medication and supervision of individuals who do not even come close to meeting the criteria for inpatient commitment.

Zdanowicz grossly exaggerates "other states' successes with assisted outpatient treatment," in an attempt to portray TAC's radical minority position as one that has received widespread support among the states. It has not.

Zdanowicz points to Duc Minh Pham, who shot and injured an Albuquerque police officer three years ago, as evidence of New Mexico's need for a Kendra's Law, ignoring the well-documented fact Pham suffered from a traumatic brain injury.

Zdanowicz argues that the lack of a Kendra's Law in New Mexico results in our law enforcement officers "end[ing] up on the front line." Ironically, the Kendra's Law being promoted by TAC would result in more difficult police encounters with consumers, and might actually cause an escalation with certain individuals who are posing no harm to anyone and who would cooperate with accessible outreach and treatment, rather than coercion.

Perhaps recognizing her failure to identify an appropriate New Mexico "poster child" for Kendra's Law, Zdanowicz points to a "lone audience member," who spoke briefly at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative symposium on the pros and cons of Kendra's Law.

In a giant leap of logic, Zdanowicz concludes this audience member demonstrates the need for a Kendra's Law in New Mexico, because Zdanowicz believed this woman was paranoid and implies she would therefore be more likely to become violent. Clearly, Zdanowicz is doing nothing more than grasping at straws.

Zdanowicz fails to explain how she is qualified to speak to the "New Mexico mental health community [which she contends] refuses to take true responsibility," or to the availability of New Mexico's mental health resources.

Zdanowicz dismisses New Mexico's severe shortage of mental health resources as nothing more than a "red herring," and instead blames the would-be consumers of inadequate or nonexistent mental health resources for "refus[ing] treatment."

Finally, in an apparent attempt to squelch further public dialogue on this complicated and sensitive issue, Zdanowicz urges New Mexico to "stop talking and start acting."

Instead, I would urge New Mexico to keep talking and start really thinking, before enacting drastic knee-jerk legislation that would not only fail to achieve its stated goals, but which would also create a tremendous injustice to many harmless and innocent New Mexican citizens.
 

David Baxter

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Kendra's Law is a moral responsibility
by Susan Warren
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I invite Nancy Koenigsberg ("Kendra's Lies," Insight & Opinion, Sept. 26) and you to spend a night in a house with my brother - an untreated, paranoid schizophrenic.

Try not to cry as you listen to him pound on walls, scream, swear and make threats at some unseen person.

Watch as my mother, who should be enjoying her senior years, has to call the police when it becomes too much for her to take.

Be there when the staff at the psychiatric hospital tells her that, true, her son is psychotic, but he is refusing medication and that's his right - since he doesn't appear to be imminently violent.

Take him home; see how comfortable you feel with the determination that he is not imminently violent.

Watch him sink into complete insanity, tormented by demons that don't exist.

Know that there are drugs that would help him. Also, know that you can't get him those medications, because your government tells you it's his right to be delusional.

My brother has a brain disease, one that makes it impossible for him to choose to take the medication that can relieve his nightmares.

It is absolutely immoral for us not to make the decision for him. If it were not for my family, my brother would be on the streets, starving and in danger.

Of course, we also need much more funding and community assistance for those suffering from mental illness.

No one disputes that the majority of consumers can make their own decisions regarding medication, but there are some mentally ill people who cannot. Kendra's Law is designed to help them.

While certainly I want to protect the police and the community from the few mentally ill people who do become violent, my main interest in getting Kendra's Law passed is so that my brother and other people lost to psychosis can get the help they need.

They deserve medical treatment like every other person with a health problem.

We should be addressing this issue as a health issue, because it is.
 

foghlaim

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is there an article that set's out Kendra's law.. I'm curious.. if one were to go by the article above.. this kendra's law is reminncent(sp) of hitlers underhand way to rid the world of jews.. like this "law" as i read it from the above article is a way to round up any person with a mental health problem and effectively lock them up till the powers that be are satisfied they have been treated. (whether they want\need it or not). which i hope would not be the case.

what is the true definition of kendra's law.??
 

ThatLady

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Here's the link to a summary of Kendra's Law that may be helpful, Fog:

http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/Kendra_web/Ksummary.htm

As I read it, there are some pretty stiff requirements before someone can be forced into treatment against their will. Because of these requirements, the law wouldn't make it possible to lock up just "any person with a mental health problem". It would, however, ensure that the public is protected from those who are too sick to understand they're sick, and might do injury to themselves or others because of that sickness.
 

David Baxter

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Also see this list of more information on Kendra's Law.

From the source ThatLady cited:

New York State recently enacted legislation that provides for assisted outpatient treatment for certain people with mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. This new law is commonly referred to as "Kendra’s Law" and is set forth in Section 9.60 of the Mental Hygiene Law (MHL). It was named after Kendra Webdale, a young woman who died in January, 1999 after being pushed in front of a New York City subway train by a person who failed to take the medication prescribed for his mental illness.
 

foghlaim

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Thank you Both for the links.. i think i understand it now.. :)

whether I would welcome it is another story.
 

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